Fuchs’ Splendid Serenades, completed

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 10

This second disc concludes Naxos’ survey of Robert Fuchs’ complete serenades, and it’s just as delightful as the first. Serenade No. 3, for strings, features an irresistibly catchy third-movement march, and a fiery finale in the Hungarian style. The Fourth Serenade, in five movements, adds horns to the basic string scoring, and was a favorite of Brahms. All of the works feature a movement described as “grazioso”, but the Allegretto grazioso of this piece particularly lives up to its title. The Fifth Serenade calls for a small wind ensemble in addition to strings and horns, and has an unforgettably witty finale in which the players seem to want to play the waltz from Die Fledermaus, but can’t quite remember how it goes, so they dance on with their own slightly tipsy tune (sound sample below). A footnote in the score assures us that Fuchs got permission from Strauss Jr’s original publisher to borrow the tunes.

As with the first disc in this series, the performances are as perfect as we have any right to ask. Christian Ludwig paces each piece with an unerring feel for the music’s often balletic grace, while the slow movements never bog down in cloying sentiment. The Cologne Chamber Orchestra plays with clean rhythms, excellent intonation, and (in the latter works) notably transparent balances between strings and winds. The German Radio engineering is typically excellent. Don’t let the “lightness” of the genre fool you. This is music of very high quality. It bears repetition well, and will charm you and your musical friends for years to come. It deserves a place in every serious collection.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: No reference recording

ROBERT FUCHS: Serenades Nos. 3, 4, and 5

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