Notes and Editorial Reviews
Serenade for Winds in d.
String Quartet No. 13
François Lelux (ob); Barbara Stegemann (ob); Sharon Kam (cl); Diemut Schneider (cl); Stefan Schweigert (bn); Dag Jensen (bn); Marie Luise Neunecker (hn); Sibylle Mahni (hn); Ozan Cakar (hn); Tanja Tetzlaff (vc); Hiroaki Aoe (db);
Antje Weithaas (vn); Christian Tetzlaff (vn); Rachel Roberts (va); Gustav Rivinius (vc)
AVI 8553164 (63:00) Live: Heimbach 2008
If I were asked to select a single piece of music that might give a hint to an alien culture that may stumble upon some artifacts of our long, lost civilization of what it was like to be human, I might be tempted to pass over such obvious choices as the B-Minor Mass or Beethoven’s Ninth in favor of the third movement, Andante con moto, of Dvo?ák’s Wind Serenade. “What?” you say. Well, hear this. Some years ago, as I was listening to this movement, my wife entered the room and remarked, casually, about the “sad” music. I chose to disagree. The movement, I told her, does not speak of sadness, but of yearning. It speaks of an ineffable desire to reach beyond one’s present condition and to find something better, finer, more perfect—to reach for what is essentially unattainable. Of course, there is a sadness in that; as mortal beings, we are all ultimately doomed to fail. What defines our humanness is that we are aware of that inevitability, and yet we strive. For me, Dvo?ák, in the third movement of his Wind Serenade, captured that hunger better than almost anyone else. The life-affirming Allegro molto finale celebrates our triumph—which is to say, we will not be deterred.
The Wind Serenade is often played as a continuous flow of inordinately beautiful sounds, and, in truth, it works that way too. The Avi performance is perhaps not as consistently euphonious as some other recorded versions, but it digs a lot deeper. It’s the most searingly intense reading I’ve heard, and, if my interpretation of the score is valid, the truest. I’m not sure whether it’s the one I would want to have played at my funeral, but it would have to be under consideration. If you share my conception of this incomparable music, this is an essential recording for you.
The Avi recording was made live at the Spannungen Chamber Music Festival in 2008 with an international cast of characters that achieves an admirably cohesive sense of purpose. Yes, the well-deserved applause is preserved on the recording. Also recorded at Spannungen was another Dvo?ák masterpiece, his penultimate string quartet, op. 106 in G, composed shortly after the composer had returned to his Czech homeland after his American sojourn. Much about the Festival performance of the Serenade is generally applicable to the performance of the Quartet. It was played by an
group (none of whom also participated in the serenade) with splendid cohesion and abandon. The results are equivalently commendable and greeted with comparably enthusiastic applause. This is a keeper, urgently recommended.
FANFARE: George Chien
Works on This Recording
Serenade for Winds in D minor, Op. 44 by Antonín Dvorák
Barbara Stegemann (Oboe),
Dag Jensen (Bassoon),
Sharon Kam (Clarinet),
François Leleux (Oboe),
Stefan Schweigert (Bassoon),
Diemut Schneider (Clarinet),
Marie-Luise Neunecker (Horns),
Sybille Mahni Haas (Horns),
Ozan Cakar (Horns),
Hiroaki Aoe (Double Bass),
Tanja Tetzlaff (Cello)
Written: 1878; Bohemia
Length: 23 Minutes 42 Secs.
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