Notes on the Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings and the Shostakovich Chamber Symphony op. 110a.
by Paul V. Miller
December 5, 2017 Philadelphia
Tchaikovsky wrote the Serenade for Strings at almost exactly the same time as his well-known 1812 Overture. While he didn’t think that the 1812 had any “serious merits” as a piece of music, he felt entirely differently about the Serenade. In a letter, the composer described it as “entirely heartfelt,” and “not without merits”, a description characteristic of Tchaikovsky’s modesty concerning his own musical works. The Serenade’s first formal performance took place in St. Petersburg in October 1882, and it was immediately hailed as a triumph. The piece was soon performed in Moscow where it enjoyed similar success. Other performances in Berlin and elsewhere earned Tchaikovsky respect around the globe.
Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony op. 110a is a much different piece of music, yet it is scored for the same ensemble as Tchaikovsky’s Serenade. The Chamber Symphony is actually an arrangement of Shostakovich’s Eighth String Quartet (1960) by the Soviet and Russian conductor and violist Rudolf Borisovich Barshai. While he was mostly faithful to the original score, Barshai added several solo and tutti sections as well as reinforced the orchestration in various places. The Quartet has been so popular that other arrangements exist, including one especially unusual one for wind octet and double bass.
NOR 59 String Orchestra & Institute
The musicians playing on this CD are between 13 and 17 years old and are students of NOR59 String Institute in Oslo, Norway. Most of the students started their musical journeys with us or joined us as young children. NOR59 has consciously never had auditions or other forms of selection for our students.
“Each potential musical child who is not given a chance, is a great loss” T. M. Reymert