Pierre Amoyal / Camerata de Lausanne

Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings; Souvenir de Florence

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Several recordings by the small Camerata de Lausanne have appeared on the Warner Classics label, and they merit attention. This pair of Tchaikovsky favorites features a smaller orchestra than usual in the Serenade for strings in C major, Op. 48, a work that seems to distill the spirit of Tchaikovsky's ballet scores down to a neat abstract, almost neoclassic package. You hardly miss the big string sections usually associated with the work, for first violinist Pierre Amoyal (the group really has no conductor) leads the Camerata in a strikingly light, sensitive interpretation, one in which the third-movement Élégie ascends to the level of pure poetry. The size is even less of an issue with the Souvenir de Florence, Op. 70, a work originally written for sextet but more often heard in an orchestral version; it must have been played very often in Tchaikovsky's day by a small orchestra like the one heard here. The engineering, from the Salle de Musique hall in Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland, has been a special pleasure of this series of releases; this is bright, lively sound that does not wrap the music in an aura of holiness, but rather brings it forward in your consciousness. A thoroughly enjoyable and intimate Tchaikovsky release.

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