Young Spirit of Serenades
Max BRUCH (1838 - 1920)
Serenade on Swedish Folk Melodies in C minor [14.59]
Wojciech KILAR [1932 - 2013]
Orawa for String Orchestra [8.50]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART [1756 – 1791]
Eine kleine Nachtmusik in G major, K.525 [17.23]
Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840 – 1893)
Serenade for String Orchestra in C major, op. 48 [29.32]
Deutsche Streicherphilharmonie/Wolfgang Hentrich
rec. Jesus_Christus-Kirche Dahlem, Berlin, 19-21 July 2014, rbb Studio1, Berlin 20-22 July 2015
GENUIN GEN16414 [70.54]

What is today the Deutsche Streicherphilharmonie was originally the Radio Music School Orchestra, founded in the GDR under Helmut Koch, in 1973. Since 2003, it has made a number of recordings on the Genuin label. These have mainly been with Michael Sanderling, who was principal conductor until 2013, when he handed over to Wolfgang Hentrich, the well-known violinist. It today draws its membership from schools all over Germany, and is tutored, among others, by members of the BRSO.

This recording provides a test of ability. It would be relatively easy to produce a CD of little-known music – it is a sterner test to perform both lesser-known works and pieces as familiar as the Mozart and Tchaikovsky.

This recording is recommendable for both the Mozart and Tchaikovsky. As usual with a youth orchestra, there are additional players, and the playing reflects this. Some speeds, especially in the Valse of the Tchaikovsky are less fleet than in some recordings, but there is no lack of nuance, and in faster movements there is real Úlan, with some pinpoint phrasing. These young players can be judged without making allowances.

What would sway many buyers would be the less common pieces. The Bruch Serenade is charming, attractive music, though not very memorable, but in this recording very much worth hearing.

For me, the highlight was Kilar’s Orawa, apparently a favourite showpiece of this orchestra – they end it with a loud shout of ‘hey’. My familiarity with Kilar’s music rested entirely on his film music for the film ‘Dracula’ and the excellent Antoni Wit recording of Angelus, Exodus and Krzesany (Naxos 8.554788). Orawa, composed in 1986, is a treat for anyone who loves the rhythms of some of Philip Glass, such as the Second and Third Symphonies. This is a sort of energetic Polish minimalism, based on ideas from the Carpathian Mountains. There is a strong and rapid pulse, with instrumental solos rising within the orchestra. This is exciting music, but in this performance there is more than just enthusiasm. There is nuance and fine phrasing – minimalist music is much more subtle than mere repetitions. I look forward to hearing the piece again.

In short, these are fine youthful performances, not perhaps first choices for the Tchaikovsky or Mozart, but worth having for Bruch and, especially, the Kilar.

Michael Wilkinson

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