Marek: Serenade for Violin and Orchestra; Sinfonietta; Capriccio

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Marek
LABELS: Koch
WORKS: Serenade for Violin and Orchestra; Sinfonietta; Capriccio
PERFORMER: Ingolf Turban (violin)Philharmonia Orchestra/Gary Brain
CATALOGUE NO: 3-6440-2
Here’s one for all ultra-Romanticised listeners. Gary Brain’s first foray into the orchestral music of Czeslaw Marek (1891-1985) was a triumph in all respects: incisively played, splendidly interpreted, revealing a fresh voice and alluring textures (Koch 3-6439-2).

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This second disc offers its own heart-warmers: nothing as unexpected, but rewarding for those drawn to a composer held in esteem by Pfitzner and Zemlinsky, and full of the orchestral dazzle and sheer fun the Philharmonia can pull off so memorably.

Marek’s thirty-minute Serenade for Violin and Orchestra is a big, unashamedly indulgent piece written in a lush 19th-century Romantic vein (the odd chromaticism apart), rich and full-bodied, like a good vintage wine. Soloist Ingolf Turban brings the confidence and sensuality of tone that have won him an excited following in Europe and America alike.

For me the real hit is the Capriccio, a glorious kaleidoscope, with opening touches of Regerian bombast ceding to a subtly swaying, lightly syncopated waltz, yet beautifully contrasted with dark, subtle, extended soft transitions and ingenious touches of orchestration (wistful muted brass, bizarre, crepuscular bassoons).

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Brain’s evocation of Straussian panache (which works in the Capriccio’s build-up) generates the odd muddy string moment early in the Sinfonietta. A little more poise would have helped: it’s there in the Presto finale. The recorded sound lacks a margin of the first disc’s warmth, but the violin’s sweetness intoxicates and much detail is still superbly caught. Roderic Dunnett