"Tchaikovsky's Serenade is one of the most exciting pieces a chamber orchestra can perform. The composer's genius is evident here not only in his incredibly beautiful melodies, but also in his amazing sense of orchestration, giving the impression to listeners and players alike that we are hearing a full symphony orchestra." -Pierre Amoyal
The Camerata de Lausanne is a small string orchestra of just over a dozen players, founded in 2002 by its leader, violinist Pierre Amoyal. They play with enthusiasm and virtuosity, exemplified here by their performances of Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings and Souvenir of Florence.
Amoyal begins the album with the Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48, a piece the famously self-critical Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) wrote in 1880. Yet, despite Tchaikovsky's self doubts about most of his music, he was quite confident about the Serenade. He thought it was one of his best works, and it is.
The Serenade is a four-movement piece, drawn up in terms of high Romanticism. Some listeners may prefer the lusher, plusher sound of a full orchestra playing the piece, but Amoyal's smaller forces have the advantage of transparency on their side. Besides, his group create a performance that closely resembles that of one of my favorite conductors and ensembles in this work, Raymond Leppard and the English Chamber Orchestra, although Amoyal takes the Elegie a tad slower and the Finale a tad quicker. But you hear the same spirit involved.
Under Amoyal the opening Andante gushes with vibrant but gentle good cheer, the composer's lush melodies never seeming to end. The Waltz is pure Tchaikovsky, and Amoyal gives it a wonderfully lilting gait, making a graceful transition to the Elegie. Then, the slow movement goes by in a lovely, wispy fashion, perhaps not so affecting as Leppard's version but close, with particularly smooth variations in the rhythm. Likewise, Amoyal gives us a seamless passage into the Finale, which eventually transforms into a lively Cossack dance. Although some critics consider this "light" music, Amoyal obliges one to take it seriously.Read more ›
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Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings has a special place in my heart because when I was a boy, back in the dark ages, the Élegie movement was the sign-on/sign-off piece for the radio broadcasts of our local orchestra. (Are you old enough to remember when most regional orchestras were heard regularly on the radio?) And I've collected recordings of it since I began having enough money to buy records. This one is by a sixteen-string Swiss group of young instrumentalists led by the eminent French violinist Pierre Amoyal. It is entirely enjoyable except for one thing: there aren't enough strings. Tchaikovsky himself wrote "The larger number of players in the string orchestra, the more this shall be in accordance with the author's wishes", and in my experience it is true that a larger group provides a sexier quality for this luscious score. That being said, I have no argument with the interpretation nor with the playing. However, one could probably do better by having the recording by the string section of the Berlin Philharmonic, now at budget price: Tchaikowsky: "1812" Overture, Serenade for Strings, Polonaise and Waltz from "Eugene Onegin" or of the Philadelphia Orchestra Symphony 5 / Serenade for Strings. And even a chamber orchestra version with Philippe Entremont conducting the Vienna Chamber Orchestra has more juice: ...Read more ›
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