DVO?ÁK Serenade for Strings. SUK Serenade for Strings. GRIEG Holberg Suite. WOLF Italian Serenade • Karl Münchinger, cond; Stuttgart CO • DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 0447 (79:56)
Karl Münchinger and his Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra were a valuable resource in the waning days of LPs and the transition to CDs, and IRead more accumulated a number of their recordings, including such Baroque staples as the Brandenburg Concertos, The Four Seasons, The Royal Fireworks Music, and, of course, the inescapable Pachelbel Canon—all worthy efforts. Bach’s harpsichord concertos with Igor Kipnis were welcome acquisitions, too. However, the period-instrument phenomenon effectively pre-empted the core repertoire Münchinger shared with his English and French counterparts, Neville Marriner and Jean-François Paillard. I’ve heard little from Münchinger over the past four decades, though he continued to conduct until two years before his death in 1990. On the evidence of this compilation Münchinger’s interests went beyond the 18th century, though, of course, these Romantic ventures have their Baroque and Classical antecedents. The serenade was a Classical form that lingered into the 19th century thanks to the efforts of Brahms, Dvo?ák, Tchaikovsky, and others, and in his Holberg Suite, Grieg was purposefully antiquarian. Münchinger leads them all with a sure hand. Dvo?ák’s String Serenade, to cite one example, retains its sweetness without leaving a saccharine aftertaste—not as easy as it may seem. The luxuriant sound of the Stuttgarters’ strings throughout is deeply satisfying. Decca has tossed us (and the eloquent annotator) a bit of a curve by including the Italian Serenade in Wolf’s own seldom-heard arrangement for strings and winds, rather than the more familiar version for strings only—which, after all, may be another reason to consider this disc. Recommended.
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