Notes and Editorial Reviews
It doesn't take much more than a thought to get musicologists going these days. It's well known that Brahms originally conceived the music of his First Serenade for other than full orchestra; perhaps string octet, perhaps a mixed nonet. No one knows for sure, and no earlier setting has survived, but that hasn't stopped several groups from reducing the work to its theoretically "original" chamber version. We can only wonder what would have happened if Brahms had speculated about writing for balalaika orchestra or Balinese gamelan. Imagine the fun! We might yet see the Third Symphony as a Ukulele Septet and the Tragic Overture in its original version for six accordions, ophicleide, viola
d'amore, three trombones, timpani, tam-tam, and glass harmonica.
But seriously, whatever the dubious musicological roots of this enterprise, the end really justifies the means, for the music sounds delightful in this reduced scoring, thanks in large part to some magnificent playing--particularly from the woodwinds--by the Czech Nonet. If you're not hooked by the thoroughly romantic tone of the horn, the rustic charm of the oboe and clarinet, or the transparent textures and sweetly singing strings in the lovely slow movement, then you need to find a new hobby besides music. My only quibble concerns certain oboe passages that have been transferred to the flute, obviously to give the player something more to do and to lighten the overall texture. I prefer the oboe originals in most such cases, but it's a very minor point. Vládimira Klánská's evocative horn playing also features in the marvelous performance of the Op. 40 Horn Trio that opens the program. This disc offers great sound and great fun, especially if you're in the mood for Brahms with a difference.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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