Symphony No.2 (Partita)
Fantasia (for strings)
Sonata for Violin Solo
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Gonzalo Acosta (violin)
Recorded on 9 & 10 March 1999 in The Colosseum, Watford
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: March 2007
CD No: NAXOS 8.559303
Duration: 60 minutes
This second Naxos CD of José Serebrier conducting his own music (the first is on 8.559183) features some arresting scores.
Serebrier (born 1938) is best-known as a conductor, of course, and here leads the London Philharmonic Orchestra in obviously fine performances of his own music. Symphony No.2 (1958) shimmers into life with a little Latin-American insouciance (rhythmically and colourfully) for music that gains energy and pace and issues a smile and a friendly hand to the listener. The opening movement gives way to a dark-toned, achingly lyrical ‘funeral march’ (re-titled, at Leopold Stokowski’s behest, as ‘Poema Elegiaco’), strings dominant until percussion smash the air and brass bray dissonantly. The ‘Interlude’ that follows is rather fragmentary and builds eerily into a satanic ‘Fugue’ (with a ‘subject’ that reminds of other music without quite revealing what – to this listener anyway!). This very imaginative work concludes with a cadenza for percussion.
The Fantasia is for strings (originally for string quartet); from a tense opening to a more playful faster section, the music is intangible and secret (less so what appears to be an edit at 7’27”!) and with echoes of the past; it’s an often-beautiful work, one that is also agitated, and discursive in its final bars.
Away from the orchestra, the 10-year-old Serebrier composed a fine piece of intuitive construction in his Sonata for Violin Solo, very well played here by Gonzalo Acosta. It’s music that Serebrier has quoted in his ‘Winter’ Violin Concerto (from 40 years later) and again in Winterreise, the orchestral showpiece that concludes this disc in which Glazunov, Haydn and Tchaikovsky are also excerpted in this sinewy, fraught and descriptive piece, in which Shostakovichian ‘chill’ pays a visit.
The spacious recording, while well focussed, can remove the edge of the music; a small reservation given Serebrier’s invention itself, which is distinctive and good to have recorded in this fine transfer from Reference Recordings.