Dennis Russell Davies' luscious scoring of 'Souvenir de Florence' is excellent and brings out the quasi-orchestral modules of this chamber work. Tchaikovsky's vivid imagery is well sustained in all four movements although the Allegro vivace that concludes the work is a bit too strong on rhetoric. The SCO are alert and polished in their playing and the work is a useful addition to the repertoire in its orchestral guise.
Matters are different with the magnificent Serenade for Strings which is absolutely charming and portrays Tchaikovsky at his brilliant best. Russell Davies is a fine exponent of the work but I still cling to my old favourites in this piece, these are Marriner with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields on Decca and the underrated but very polished Norman del Mar with the London Symphony string ensemble on a now deleted EMI Classics for Pleasure disc.
However MD&G's recording is outstanding and the playing is beyond reproach, if a little short on character. Collectionists may pick and choose but the disc is worth having for the Souvenir de Florence alone. The wonderful cover may sway hearts however!
Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech