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DVORAK Wind Serenade; ENESCU Dixtuor; JANACEK Mladi

Oslo Philharmonic Wind Soloists
Naxos 8.554173 60'24"

No angst in this programme, which makes for a happy hour's listening, just right for unwinding, with a glass of your preferred, after a day's work. Everyone loves the Dvorak Serenade for Strings, but his 'other' serenade (Op. 44), a typical example of his music around 1880, is not heard too often, even though there are some twenty recordings. It preserves its freshness and is always welcome. For wind band with lower strings, there are four tuneful movements, redolent of Dvorak's homeland, expertly scored to give everyone a good chance.

The Romanian George Enescu's Dixtuor Op. 14, is less nationalistic, and remains the least known of the three. Never likely to make the 'canon', it deserves an occasional airing. Despite Naxos deciding to feature Dvorak in boldest print for marketing purposes, the masterpiece here is Janacek's astonishing Youth sextet of his old age, for normal wind quintet plus bass clarinet which colours the ensemble uniquely. Mladi is untiringly fascinating, however many times heard, and one of my favourite pieces of music. This one makes fifteen versions in the catalogue. It seems brings out the best in wind players, who always seem to relish it. I recall the London Sinfonietta players, directed by David Atherton, as particularly felicitous [Decca 430 375-2DH2]. The Oslo soloists, without a named director, give very satisfactory, robust performances. At Naxos' bargain price, recording and presentation are perfectly satisfactory.


Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

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