WORKS: Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a; Concerto in D; Serenade for Strings
PERFORMER: Norwegian CO/Iona Brown
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45110 2 DDD
There is an uncommon sense of wistfulness and tranquillity in the playing of the Norwegian CO. Moments of the Tchaikovsky Serenade fade into contemplative silence as though the players have collectively decided on a break for meditation. Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony creeps into life almost imperceptibly, the composer’s bleak ‘DSCH’ signature starting as a hint and gradually growing in stature. The control is impressive. But there is more to these pieces of music than moments of calm: the Tchaikovsky is for the most part buoyant, the Shostakovich often violent, and the Stravinsky fastidious and quirky. Happily, the playing is every bit as impressive throughout, particularly in the Shostakovich where much of the raw emotion of the original quartet still finds expression despite the orchestral forces.
As a compilation, the works on this disc fit together well – it is possible to hear in one sitting without single-composer fatigue (and confusion) creeping in. Christopher Lambton