Music Reviews

The Magic of its ‘Expressive Power’

I do not think that the Amsterdam Sinfonietta had anything else in mind than producing an album of “several romantic works, each with a very specific expressive power of its own”. A selection of genuine and adaptations for string ensemble. But in the face of actual global Covid-19 health developments, it may come across quite differently, reinforcing feelings of distress and desolation. However, as many, or possibly all of us know, music can do wonders. In this specific case, the magic of ‘its expressive power’ reaches way beyond suffering. It not only brings soothing consolation to people having lost family in hard-hit areas but surprisingly it also has an uplifting effect on the mind.

With this release, I was lucky enough to sit in the best seat in the hall.

Some of the chosen compositions are familiar, like Wagner’s Prelude from Tristan und Isolde, played here in an arrangement by Adrian Williams, and one of the favorites of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta; some are less so, like Lekeu’s Adagio pour quator d’orchestre and maybe also Bridge’s Lament for String Orchestra. Read all about it in Willem de Bordes most instructive liner notes. The title song comes from Korngold’s Symphonic Serenade. The Lento Religiose, which “sounds like a melancholy farewell” (dixit Willem de Bordes) is the central and main part of the Serenade. Hopefully, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta will bless us with an integral recording of the serenade as it is sorely missing in the hi-res catalogue. 

An impressively energetic sound palette

Each new release by the Amsterdam Sinfonietta is a gift to even the most demanding music lover. I have quite a number of their albums, starting with their preceding New Sinfonietta Amsterdam, and none are below ‘excellence standard’. This one is no exception. For this recording, the core complement of 22 has been reinforced with 21 more players, according to what is required for each work. The result is an impressively energetic sound palette as, for instance, in Wijnand van Klaveren’s brilliant adaptation of Alban Berg’s first piano sonata and Korngold’s Symphonic Serenade Op. 39, as well as in the warmth of the ardent ‘Leidenschaft’ in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Both highlighting the Sinfonietta’s world-class reputation. 

Sinfonietta Amsterdam Photo: Marco Borggreve

A true to life recording

With a fast-growing number of remastered ‘oldies’, many heroic recordings of the past have been brought back to the hi-res catalogue. But for creating a feeling of presence, like hearing the music as though it is played at home, it won’t do. Fortunately, some producers, like Channel Classics, are at the cutting edge of sound reproduction. With this release, I was lucky enough to sit in the best seat in the hall.

Copyright © 2020 Adrian Quanjer and – republished at NativeDSD with permission.

Written by

Adrian Quanjer

Adrian Quanjer is a site reviewer at HRAudio, with many years of experience in classical music. He writes from his country retreat at Blangy-le-Château, France. As a regular concertgoer, he prefers listening to music in the highest possible resolution to recreate similar involvement at home. He is eager to share his thoughts with like-minded melomaniacs at NativeDSD.


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