This is a unique coupling on record, but a perceptive and satisfying one: a trio of Romantically inclined serenades from composers of Northern Europe, writing in the last decades of the 19th century when the drive to define a Nationalist spirit through culture was at its height. And so these works are distinctively, variously Russian, Czech and English in their different ways, while never relinquishing a debt to the German tradition in which their composers were to a greater or lesser degree educated.
The Serenade by Vasily Kalinnikov is a single-movement Andantino. Light on its feet, with a waltz-like flow and much delicate pizzicato writing, the Serenade plays with a single theme full of spring-like freshness and optimism. There is a more complex structure and wider range of expressive moods to the multi-movement works by Janáček and Elgar, but they are relatively early works, both informed by long practical experience as a violinist. Elgar’s Serenade is a miniature masterpiece, with a deeply felt central slow movement, and one of his first fully assured works, even if his regular publishers Novello declined to print it because ‘We find that this class of music is practically unsaleable’.
The Ferruccio Busoni Chamber Orchestra have previously appeared on Brilliant Classics with their music director Massimo Belli in an album of viola concertos (BC94971) by the 18th-century Milanese composer Alessandro Rolla. In 2015 the orchestra celebrated its 50th anniversary by making this album and with a concert in its home-town of Trieste, which was recorded live and subsequently released on CD. Together they have made several recordings of Classical and Romantic repertoire which have received five-star reviews in the Italian press.
Three Serenades for strings, written around the turn of the 19th and 20th century, sharing a full blooded romanticism, warmth and even nostalgia, characteristic of that period: the String Serenades by Janáček, the famous Serenade by Elgar and the lesser known but no less attractive Serenade by Vassily Kalinnikov, friend of Tchaikovsky.
Performed with loving lyricism, refinement and zest by the Orchestra Busoni, conducted by Massimo Belli.
The booklet provides liner notes in English and Italian.