Album of the Year 2020

Lento Religioso

Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Candida Thompson

(5 press reviews)
Original Recording Format: DSD 256
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The Serenades by Dvořák and Tchaikovsky, Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht, and the Bridge Variations by Britten: all these masterpieces from the corpus of music for string orchestra belong to the very nucleus of our repertoire. But in recent decades we have further enriched our genre by initiating commissions, presenting numerous premieres, and having music specially arranged for us. And occasionally we have also discovered gems that are never played.

On this album ‘Lento Religioso’ we bring together several romantic works, each with a very specific expressive power of its own. Some are genuine pieces for string ensemble, others are adaptations created for us. Some arrangements are simple: you play the four parts of a string quartet with all the strings of a string orchestra and have a nice bass part written, and a ‘new work’ is born. But it can also be a complicated process. In ‘translating’ a work written for piano or symphony orchestra, the arranger must make complex artistic and technical decisions. In any adaptation lies a danger, but also a potential; will the listener be disappointed in comparing it to his previous knowledge of the piece, or pleasantly surprised by new aspects presented by the arrangement? This tender, melancholy, and languishing album is intended for the inquisitive listener.

– Candida Thompson
Artistic director, lead violinist


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Berg - Sonata, Opus 1, Arr. Wijnand van Klaveren
Korngold - Lento Religioso from Symphonic Serenade, Opus 39
Bruckner - Adagio from String Quintet WAB 112
Bridge - Lament for String Orchestra H117 Adagio, con molto espessione - Poco piu adagio
Lekeu - Adagio pour quatuor d'orchestre
Wagner - Prelude from Tristan und Isolde, Arr. Adrian Williams - Langsam und schmachtend
Strauss - Prelude from Capriccio, Opus 85 - Andante con moto

Total time: 01:16:41

Additional information





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Van den Hul

Digital Converters

DSD 64fs AD1 / Grimm Audio (2014, 2016) DSD 256fs Horus / Merging Technologies (2020)

Editing Software

Pyramix Workstation / Merging Technologies

Mastering Engineer

Jared Sacks


Bruel & Kjaer 4006, Schoeps

Mixing Board

Rens Heijnis, custom design


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Original Recording Format


Willem de Bordes

Recording Engineer

Jared Sacks (except Lekeu is recorded by Daan van Aalst)

Recording location

Stadsgehoorzaal, Leiden (2014) Bethlehemkerk Studio 150, Amsterdam (2016, 2020)

Recording Type & Bit Rate

DSD 64 (2014, 2016) and DSD 256 (2020)


Grimm LS1

Release DateSeptember 11, 2020

Press reviews

Present Arts

(…) There are moments of great depth and sadness (…) caught magically by the strings of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, directed from the violin by Candida Thompson, and it is the atmosphere of loss and regret that pervades not just the music but this year of pestilence and political thuggery, for which the album serves as some sort of elegy. (…) The selection of works is finely curated.


Dat Amsterdam Sinfonietta een meer dan uitstekend ensemble is met dito repertoire, staat als een paal boven water. (…)

Audio Review 5 out of 5

(…) This is clearly a deeply felt example of what in the 1960s might have been a concept album called ‘Music to Relax To’. And then there is the sound! (…) Clarity and definition are exemplary. (…) this is as good as digital sound gets. (…)

Performance: 4 // Sound: Balance: 5, Inner balance: 5, Detail and clarity: 5, Dynamic range: 5

De Gelderlander 5 out of 5

Amsterdam Sinfonietta laat op nieuwste cd Lento Religioso in ruim vijf kwartier horen dat een rustig tempo niet saai maar juist heel intens kan zijn. (…) De musici weten met hun expressieve, uiterst sonore toon- en klankvorming de aandacht moeiteloos naar zich toe te trekken.

HR Audio.Net 5 out of 5

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.

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 catalog.

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.

With a fast-growing number of remastered ‘oldies’, many heroic recordings of the past have been brought back to the DSD catalog. 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.


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