Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings is one of these works many conductors get it wrong in interpretation, therefore surprisingly few recordings for such a masterpiece. Stokowski and Bernstein completely fail to capture the inner beauty of the work, Ormandy gives superb account, but so poorly recorded. Karajan's DG recording is perhaps the most satisfying, but it lacks extra something to be a top recommendation.
I've come to know Marriner's near-miracle version quite by chance. Recently, I bought secondhand CD of Mariiner/ASMF's Elgar's Serenade for Strings and Introduction & Allegro simply because it was very cheap, and it turned out ot be the most amazing recording of the works, then I decided to try Tchaikovsky/Dvorak Serenades as well and wasn't disappointed. Karajan's sublime DG version of the same works is admirable enough, but Marriner's account has the extra factor to be classified as THE great recording. ASMF's playing has more vitality and feeling than BPO's, and the sheer sumptuousness and sweetness of the tone makes these glowing performances in a class of its own. Marriner's judgement of tempo for each movement is perfect and he has the masterful control over the subtle chang in ebb and flow of the music.
The recording quality is as amazing as the performances themselves. Simply an awesome recording!
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