Tchaikovsky - Souvenir de Florence
I Musici de Montreal; Yuli Turovsky
Analekta AN 2 9954
It was during his second visit to Italy’s sunny skies in 1890 that Tchaikovsky composed his string sextet in d minor, Op.70, appropriately titled Souvenir de Florence. Initially dissatisfied with it, he ultimately revised the piece and we have it here as arranged for string orchestra, along with the much earlier String Quartet Op.11 with I Musici de Montréal under the leadership of Yuli Turovsky.
What a fresh and vigorous sound IMM achieves on this recording! While always displaying a formidable precision, the group also demonstrates a keen sensitivity to the counterpoint. Melodic lines are carefully delineated, and there is none of the muddiness that can characterize string playing from time to time. This element of clarity is nowhere more evident than in the lively finale, which to me, always sounds more Slavic than Italian.
The String Quartet in D major is a considerably earlier work, written in 1871. Today, the piece is most famous for the well-known slow movement, the “Andante Cantabile”. Here, the augmented size of the ensemble, resulting in a lusher sound, seems particularly suited to this lyrical music which apparently brought Leo Tolstoy to tears upon first hearing it!
Kudos should also go to the engineering team for its fine technical work, and also for their decision (if indeed it was theirs) to record the disc at the Église Saint-Mathieu de Beloeil. The acoustics in this venerable 113-year old building are sublime and give a wonderfully resonant sound throughout, an element that further enhances an already great performance.