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Mussorgsky/Stokowski: Pictures at an Exhibition; A Night on Bare Mountain & Serebrier: Symphony No. 3 'Symphonie Mystique'


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Filmed in Chester Cathedral during the National Youth Orchestra of Spain's 2007 European tour, this concert features Leopold Stokowski's inimitable and colorful transcriptions of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and A Night on Bare Mountain. Jos+-¬ Serebrier's 'Symphonie mystique', for strings, was written in the space of just one week in 2003. Also included are works by Wagner, Serebrier, and Bizet. Jos+-¬ Serebrier conducts the National Youth Orchestra of Spain/Joven Orquesta Nacional de Espa+-¦a (JONDE) with soprano Carole Farley.

Review

José Serebrier has already recorded the two main works here in CD format, but it's interesting to check the extra sense of edge and immediacy given this live concert in Chester Cathedral and, in any case of the Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition, to watch first-hand what Stokowski was doing with the instrumentation. Stokowski's aim was avowedly to provide a "more Russian" sound than Ravel's famous orchestration, and certainly his Pictures at an Exhibition has stronger post-echoes of, say, the sound-world of Boris Godunov than Ravel's generally more sumptuous redaction. Here it's given a bold, colourful performance by these young Spanish musicians under Serebrier. Serebrier's own Third Symphony is for strings only, excepting a biref vocalise at the conclusion of the work. The opening movement, propulsively rhythmic and spikily syncopated, certainly puts the players through their paces, testing pulse and pitching within sections via some effectively divided string writing. The other three movements are all slow, with some magical episodes (there's a beautiful solo for the excellent concertmaster).

The conventional stereo provided is perfectly satisfactory, neatly focusing the potentially awkward cathedral acoustic. A warmly affectionate performance of Wagner's Meistersinger Prelude opens the concert. -- BBC Music Magazine, Terry Blain, June 2009

Recorded and filmed in concert 7 August 2007 from the Chester Cathedral, these performances capture the suave elegance of the National Youth Orchestra of Spain (founded 1983) while on tour under guest-conductor José Serebrier, appearing in triple guise as composer, conductor, and acolyte of his own mentor, Leopold Stokowski. Resembling a modern version of Willem Mengelberg, José Serebrier sports a very fluid baton technique, although he will abandon that instrument when emotional conditions require. He opens with a broadly articulate and vibrant rendition of the Wagner's Prelude to Die Meistersinger, the youthful flute and oboe among the attentive instrumentalists who never cease to attend to cues from their eminent maestro. Harps, trumpets, a trio of feminine French horn players, and the tympani join in the illumined pages of the fugato, with Serebrier often miming the violin fingering he wants. Clarinets, oboes, and tutti strings and brass usher in the Entrance of the Masters, as their clarion call rises over the sea of competing orchestral voices, a panoply of shimmering colors.

José Serebrier composed his Third Symphony (2003) in one week, scoring the piece as a string symphony with wordless soprano solo. The opening movement moves moto perpetuo, with repeated rhythms and a dark, legato melody amidst the nervous, metric thrusts. Cellos introduce the dirge-like Lento that proceeds on the basis of a half-step spread over several octaves. The concertmaster introduces a high-pitched plaint from afar, but the melancholia remains. The figures flutter and anxiously whisper, but no resolution ensues. The third movement Andante mosso begins with gloomy second violins and violas in shifting, amorphous figures, melodically undefined. An obsessive waltz emerges over pizzicati, the string part inflamed like Schoenberg's Verklaerte Nacht or Britten's A Simple Symphony. Abortive attempts to rekindle the melody end in resignation. The last movement Andante comodo re-introduces the Slavic theme from the first movement, darkly romantic in the manner of Shostakovich. Carole Farley intones a haunted vocalise, made visual by the camera's focus first on religious icons and then Farley in the rafters, high above the congregation. A kind of rhapsodic chaconne, the movement achieves a disembodied, haunted character, the composer-conductor having abandoned his baton and closing with flittering fingers.

The opportunity to savor Leopold Stokowski's treatments of Mussorgsky pays the entrance fee for this concert; and Serebrier makes no apologies for his taste. The Night on Bare Mountain--with its associations of Bela Lugosi miming for the benefit of the Disney animators of Fantasia, 1940--becomes a vibrant, Russian color piece in old modes; no soft touches from Rimsky-Korsakov to sweeten the brew. Gong, flutes, piccolos, each contributes to the orgiastic then lachrymose spirits who return to their daylight tombs after the revel. The baton-less Serebrier relishes the oboe solo, flute, and harp as the tremolo strings usher in a song of thanksgiving. Having rejected the Ravel orchestration of Pictures at an Exhibition as too Gallic, Stokowski retouched the piece himself in 1939, omitting two sections and allowing many rough edges to come forth. Russian liturgical modes combine with old-fashioned, romantic slides and portamenti to keep both players and auditors fastened on the panoply of musical sounds. Gnomus has a seditious fervor about it. The dwarf's bassoon then takes us through the promenade to The Old Castle, where the troubadour's song acquires some ghostly colors. The tuba's Bydlo moves from Wagnerian oratory to a string symphony culminating in a paean to the Russian soil. First chattering chicks, then two obstreperous Jews enter into a Marxist colloquy on social class, the muted trumpets flourishing and the strings churning a commentary on the drama.

Dante or Liszt takes us into the Roman catacombs, an abyss rife with horrific visions. The promenade theme appears distilled into a dead but seductive language. Baba Yaga via Stokowski resembles Stravinsky Katschei from The Firebird - inflamed, menacing, vulgar, pestiferous. Finally, a broad, expansive canvas for The Gate of Kiev, an organ sonority permeating every bar for over eight minutes. The secondary clarion subject takes us deep into the Russian Orthodox Church for Russian Easter, whence the promenade becomes akin to the Sermon on the Mount. Acknowledging the unanimous applause, Serebrier grants us one encore, the Farandole from Bizet's The Girl from Arles, Suite No. 2, a rousing instance of pipes and full orchestra manipulated by a young ensemble obviously as enthralled with music as their gifted conductor. -- Audiophile Audition, Gary Lemco, April 2009

Recorded in concert 7 August 2007 from the Chester Cathedral, these performances capture the suave elegance of the National Youth Orchestra of Spain (founded 1983) while on tour under guest-conductor Jose Serebrier, appearing in triple guise as composer, conductor, and student-acolyte of his own mentor, Leopold Stokowski. Resembling a modern version of Willem Mengelberg, Serebrier sports a fluid baton technique, although he will abandon that instrument when emotional conditions require. He opens with a broadly articulate rendition of the Wagner's Prelude to Die Meistersinger, the youthful flute and oboe among the attentive instrumentalists who never cease to attend to cues from their eminent maestro. Harps, trumpets, a trio of feminine French horn players, and the tympani join in the illumined pages of the fugato, with Serebrier often miming the violin fingering he wants. Clarinets, oboes, and tutti strings and brass usher in the Entrance of the Masters, as their clarion call rises over the sea of competing orchestral voices, a panoply of shimmering colors.

The opportunity to savor Leopold Stokowski's treatments of Mussorgsky pays the entrance fee for this concert; and Serebrier makes no apologies for his taste. The Night on Bare Mountain--with its associations of Bela Lugosi miming for the benefit of the Disney animators of Fantasia, 1940--becomes a vibrant, Russian color piece in old modes; no soft touches from Rimsky-Korsakov to sweeten the brew. Gong, flutes, piccolos, each contributes to the orgiastic then lachrymose spirits who return to their daylight tombs after the revel. The baton-less Serebrier relishes the oboe solo, flute, and harp as the tremolo strings usher in a song of thanksgiving. Having rejected the Ravel orchestration of Pictures at an Exhibition as too Gallic, Stokowski retouched the piece himself (along with Lucien Caillet) in 1939, omitting two sections and allowing many rough edges to come forth. Russian liturgical modes combine with old-fashioned, romantic slides and portamenti to keep both players and auditors fastened on the panoply of musical sounds. Gnomus has a seditious fervor about it. The dwarf's bassoon then takes us through the promenade to The Old Castle, where the troubadour's song acquires some ghostly colors. The tuba's Bydlo moves from Wagnerian oratory to a string symphony culminating in a paean to the Russian soil. First chattering chicks, then two obstreperous Jews enter into a Marxist colloquy on social class, the muted trumpets flourishing and the strings churning a commentary on the drama. Dante or Liszt takes us into the Roman catacombs, an abyss rife with horrific visions. The promenade theme appears distilled into a dead but seductive language. Baba Yaga via Stokowski resembles Stravinsky Katschei from The Firebird - inflamed, menacing, vulgar, pestiferous. Finally, a broad, expansive canvas for The Gate of Kiev, an organ sonority permeating every bar for over eight minutes. The secondary clarion subject takes us deep into the Russian Orthodox Church for Russian Easter, whence the promenade becomes akin to the Sermon on the Mount. Acknowledging the unanimous applause, Serbebrier grants us one encore, the Farandole from Bizet's The Girl from Arles, Suite No. 2, a rousing instance of pipes and full orchestra manipulated by a young ensemble obviously as enthralled with music as their gifted conductor. -- Audiophile Audition, Gary Lemco, August 2008

Recorded in concert 7 August, 2007 from the Chester Cathedral, these performances capture the suave elegance of the National Youth Orchestra of Spain (founded 1983) while on tour under guest-conductor José Serebrier, appearing in triple guise as composer, conductor, and acolyte of his own mentor, Leopold Stokowski. Resembling a modern version of Willem Mengelberg, José Serebrier sports a fluid baton technique, although he will abandon that instrument when emotional conditions require. He opens with a broadly articulate rendition of the Wagner's Prelude to Die Meistersinger, the youthful flute and oboe among the attentive instrumentalists who never cease to attend to cues from their eminent maestro. Harps, trumpets, a trio of feminine French horn players, and the tympani join in the illumined pages of the fugato, with José Serebrier often miming the violin fingering he wants. Clarinets, oboes, and tutti strings and brass usher in the Entrance of the Masters, as their clarion call rises over the sea of competing orchestral voices, a panoply of shimmering colors. -- Audiophile Audition, Gary Lemco, August 9, 2008

To my ears, it's an arresting score, moving from a vigorous opening Presto on to three darker and more enigmatic movements of striking--sometimes nearly Mahlerian--emotional depth. The spare landscape of the second movement, which grows from a long wandering line for cellos alone, is especially haunting. -- Fanfare Magazine, Peter J. Rabinowitz, January 2009


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Mussorgsky/Stokowski: Pictures at an Exhibition; A Night on Bare Mountain & Serebrier: Symphony No. 3 'Symphonie Mystique'
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