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.
Amsterdam Sinfonietta was founded in 1988, with Lev Markiz as its first artistic director. Candida Thompson has been the orchestra’s concertmaster since 1995, as well as its artistic director since 2003.
The ensemble comprises 22 string players who perform under the leadership of Thompson. This approach to music-making without a conductor is what distinguishes the group from ‘regular’ chamber orchestras. It calls for a very high degree of involvement from all the musicians. The repertoire covers a variety of styles, from baroque repertoire to contemporary works.
Alongside performances of mainstream repertoire, the orchestra frequently champions unjustly neglected and new works.