Serenades: Tchaikovsky, Elgar & Mozart by Daniel Hope & Zürcher Kammerorchester
‘I’m inclined to knock music’, my colleague Phil wryly jokes at the mention of Mozart’s oft-performed serenade Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Overdone though it may be, in the hands of the right musicians we are reminded of the genius and inventiveness of Mozart’s supposedly hackneyed music. Under the direction of violinist Daniel Hope, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra proves to be up to the task, giving an effervescent and brilliant performance of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik for this recent recording of string serenades.
The album opens with Tchaikovsky’s luscious Serenade for Strings, about which the composer himself earnestly declared, ‘it is a heartfelt piece and so, I dare to think, is not lacking in real qualities’. I am of the same mind: the sweeping melodies and lush textures speak straight to the heart, and – just as the lightness of Mozart’s serenade can cheer a grump – the warmth of Tchaikovsky’s music is an antidote to bleak times. Rather than giving into the temptation of sentimentality and an overabundance of rubato, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra approaches the serenade with athletic precision, allowing the emotional directness of Tchaikovsky’s music to express itself.
Elgar’s more intimate offering completes this enjoyable survey of string serenades.