New Czech recordings of perennially popular serenades from the pen of Dvořák at a turning point in his career, full of freshness, Bohemian charm and flowing melodies.
The Serenades for Strings and Winds never get old, and never lose their appeal, especially in the hands of musicians who feel this music in their bones. The opening of the Serenade for Strings issues the warmest welcome to a world poised between the 18th and 19th centuries, looking back in terms of its reassuring character as music for nocturnal entertainment, yet also unmistakably belonging to the Czech composer’s own place and time – Prague, 1875 – with its Bohemian turn of harmony and yearning cantabile.
Composed three years later as a counterpart, the Serenade for Winds marks a development in the composer’s technique – more elegant handling of counterpoint and melodic development – from the earlier work. At the same time, the Mozartian air of good-natured humour is even stronger. Both serenades relax into slow movements of poetry without pathos, and each of them was composed within less than a fortnight’s work, testifying to the inspiration felt by the composer as he worked at his material. The melodies seem to come, as Richard Strauss later said of himself, as easily as a cow giving milk.
The Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra Pardubice has made several albums of Czech repertoire for Brilliant Classics and Piano Classics, most recently the neglected Piano Concerto of Dvořák (PCL10272), as well as the complete piano concertante works of Chopin with Ekaterina Litvinseva, and the Cello Concerto of Dvořák (95696). The recording was made under studio conditions in the orchestra’s home concert hall, yielding a warm, transparent sound which is ideally suited to these intimate pieces.
- Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) composed two enchanting serenades that captivate audiences with their melodic beauty and evocative charm. These compositions, the Serenade for Strings in E major, Op. 22, and the Serenade for Wind Instruments in D minor, Op. 44, reflect Dvořák's immense skill in blending the traditional elements of classical music with the rich folk melodies of his Bohemian heritage.
- The Serenade for Strings, composed in 1875, is a delightful work consisting of five movements. It is often described as Dvořák's love letter to string instruments. The piece exudes a gentle, lyrical character, showcasing Dvorak's melodic prowess and skillful orchestration. The work is characterized by its warm, soaring melodies and vibrant interplay between the strings, making it a favorite in the string orchestra repertoire.
- In contrast, the Serenade for Wind Instruments, composed in 1878, is a vibrant and spirited composition for a wind ensemble, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, and horns. This serenade reflects Dvořák's exploration of the wind ensemble medium, offering a rich palette of timbres and textures. It encompasses an exuberant, dance-like quality in its outer movements, while the inner movements provide moments of introspection and lyrical beauty.
- Played with affection and a true feeling for the idiom by the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra Pardubice, conducted by Vahan Mardirossian and Stanislav Vavřínek. As a bonus we hear the work for cello and orchestra “Silent Woods”, played by Petr Nouzovský