Here is a bargain and
a half! This is another Telarc disc,
re-issuing two previously available
CDs. The new disc is released in SACD
format. The music is recorded in spectacular
sound and superbly performed.
Telarc is well known
for audio excellence, and rarely, if
ever, have I seen a negative review
of one of their products in this respect.
And so it is here with a recording that
cannot be faulted. As far as performances
go, do not be put off by the name Leonard
Slatkin. These recordings were made
well before Slatkin’s disastrous tenure
with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, now
thankfully at an end. He made a number
of superlative recordings with the St.
Louis band on RCA, Telarc and Vanguard,
but of these three, the recording quality
was always best with Telarc.
The Vaughan Williams
items, particularly the Tallis Fantasia,
sound just right, reinforcing the
conductor’s high reputation in English
music. Listening to this disc, one would
not immediately pick it as being by
American performers, there being little
gloss to the playing with a superior
The Samuel Barber makes
its customary impact, although not quite
replacing Bernstein’s performance on
The other small items
on the disc, Fauré, Pachelbel,
and Grainger, are exceedingly good,
with the orchestra sounding particularly
well, eclipsing or at least equalling
most competitive versions.
The main work on the
disc is the Tchaikovsky Serenade for
Strings, written at a particularly happy
time of in the composer’s life. It is
contemporary with the 1812 Overture,
and whereas the overture was written
unenthusiastically, the Serenade was
entirely self generated. It is in four
movements, the first being in formal
sonata form, reinforcing Tchaikovsky’s
love of Germanic constructions in music.
There follows a beautifully written
Waltz, which has become self sufficient
as a favourite encore for many conductors.
Slatkin’s phrasing of the slow movement
brings out all of the emotion in the
piece. The finale is a rushing Allegro
con Spirito and it really is that.
I can heartily recommend
this disc to all collectors whether
or not they wish to take advantage of
Telarc’s superb SACD sound.