Alexander Schneider

Dvoràk: Serenade for Strings in E; Serenade for Wind Instruments in D minor [25th Anniversary Edition]

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This recording of the Dvorák Serenade for Strings by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe really has a lot of good things going for it. Despite the relatively small size of the ensemble, it packs an impressively large, well-rounded sound. Technical aspects of the performance -- such as articulation, intonation, dynamics, and phrasing -- are also quite exemplary. The sound quality of the recording is also clear without being thin, allowing all of the ensemble's detail and nuance to come through while still maintaining a warm timbre, even in the bright key of E major. The one drawback (or not, depending on the personal preferences of the listener) is that all of the movements are quite a bit slower than in other recordings. The Larghetto fourth movement, for example, is a full minute and a half longer than the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. The slower tempos rob the otherwise wonderful recording of some of the energy and exuberance that the Serenade is capable of imparting. The Op. 44 Wind Serenade is another story. All of these movements, played with a similar level of technical and musical attention to detail, are much more lively and energetic. The Presto Trio is a true Presto and the Allegro molto Finale lives up to its vigorous character marking.

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