Stenhammar: Serenade Op 31 / Järvi, Gothenburg So
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Wilhelm Stenhammar’s Serenade is unquestionably an orchestral masterpiece, one of two that he wrote (the other being the Second Symphony), and this remains its finest recording. Järvi remade the work for DG, and very well too, with this same orchestra, but as is so often the case the second effort doesn’t quite measure up to the initial outing. In the first place, this performance includes the “Reverenza” movement that Stenhammar later deleted. It’s a charming minuet, and since it’s followed by the Canzonetta, a slow waltz, it’s easy to understand why he decided, however reluctantly, to leave it out. I’m not entirely sure it fits here as the second movement–that means a lot of slow music between the opening Overture and the Scherzo–but it’s still good to have and you can always just skip it if the result turns out to be boring in your opinion.
Second, Järvi offers the most exciting and rambunctious performance of the Scherzo yet recorded. This movement really can and should be a virtuoso extravaganza, and here it has a huge impact, assisted in no small degree by some of the best recorded sound that BIS ever managed in Gothenburg. The rich bass, wide dynamic range, and superb balances permit Järvi and his players to let it rip in thrilling fashion. Add to that a lovely, flowing Notturno and a meaty, muscular finale and the result is one of the glories of the BIS catalog. The Serenade has been lucky on disc, and has received a striking number of fine recordings, but this is the one to own to get to know the work.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: BIS-CD-310
Composer: Wilhelm Stenhammar
Conductor: Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble: Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra