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Golden Age singers

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If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Sándor Végh live at the 1986 Salzburg Festival
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Serenade in D major, K239 'Serenata notturna' (1776) [11:57]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)

String Symphony No. 9 in C major (1822) [24:52]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)

Serenade in E major, Op. 22 (1879) [28:15]
Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)

Serenade in G major 'Italian Serenade' (1892) [7:39]
Camerata Academica Salzburg/Sándor Végh
Recorded live at the 1986 Salzburg Festival in the Felsenreitschule (19 August) and the Mozarteum (22 August)
ORFEO C 630 041 B [68:16]

 


These concert recordings offer performances which genuinely are 'live', in the sense of 'alive'. And we get a succession of complementary but dissimilar pieces which, to be honest, offer far more varied and stimulating listening than many an 'integrated' (e.g. one-composer) CD programme.

These pieces are arranged in chronological sequence, so we get an informative, and most satisfying, stylistic progression across some one hundred years. Mozart's Serenade - complete with obbligato timpani, the only non-string instrument you'll hear on the disc - is one of his most delightful. The Mendelssohn 'symphony' shows the teenage composer at his most inventive and precocious. The Dvořák is one music's timeless divertissements, brimful of some of the composer's most memorable tunes. And the Italian Serenade is one of Wolf's most exuberant, spring-like creations.

The ADD recordings from Austrian Radio give us plenty of noise from audience and musicians alike - coughs, splutters, squeaking chairs, shuffling bottoms, page turns, applause and enthusiastic shouting, the lot - not to mention a fair amount of tape hiss. But we also get a most agreeable middle-row concert ambience, which allows detail and atmosphere in equal measure. By the time you're only a minute or two into the disc, you come to understand the respect and admiration which Sándor Végh commanded among his musicians. The Camerata Academica's playing is incisively articulated, beautifully phrased, and communicates warmth and enjoyment in abundance. Their singing - violins and cellos in the gorgeous opening theme of the Dvořák - and their dancing - those prancing lines in the Wolf! - are equally enchanting.

Don't take my comments about noise too much to heart. The spontaneity of this music-making is its greatest strength: no studio recording could ever give you what you've got here!

Peter J Lawson 



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