There is almost
an outdoor feeling to these performances - not inappropriately,
given the genre. The Chamber Orchestra of Europe celebrated
its 25-year anniversary in 2005. It has been very active.
I remember seeing some of the earlier concerts it gave and
being amazed at the youth of the players. The average age
seemed substantially lower than for other professional ensembles.
The C minor is
first in playing order. The COE Soloists, while acknowledging
the import of a C minor statement, opt not to dwell on the
heaviness of the first movement. Light enters whenever it
can. The playing is robust, an impression emphasised by John
Boyden and Tony Faulkner’s rather close-up recording.
depths of the scores are kept at arms‘ length. The intent
of the reading becomes clear in the third movement, where
we are clearly out of doors. Deliberately acidic clarinets
and oboes add to the slightly rough-and-ready impression.
The finale is quite suave and confident. Those who dislike
audible key-clicks - from the bassoon here - should be warned.
I searched in
vain for a CD transfer of the 1947 Furtwängler with soloists
from the Vienna Philharmonic. Apparently it is available on
Walhall coupled with the same conductor’s 1949 Zauberflöte
and also on Naxos 8.110994. I remember it from LP days with
The E flat Serenade
K375 is a different proposition entirely. The two works on
this disc complement each other perfectly - indeed, the Orpheus
Chamber Orchestra chose the same coupling for DG - even to
the extent that the mock-serious tone of K375’s opening bars
takes off from K388’s finale. It is true, however, that this
performance could have more joie-de-vivre; there is a rather
studio-bound feel to it all. The greatest success is the first
Menuetto and Trio, which is as bright as a button, with dotted
rhythms emphasised to give the whole real uplift. The Adagio
is more successful as it speaks of exquisite calm rather than
ruffled emotions, while the finale is almost the romp
it really is.
This is a budget/mid-price
release but even so, I would have expected more playing time
than only just over three-quarters of an hour. If the finale
of K375 leaves a half-smile on the face, it is not really
enough to justify the outlay.