José Serebrier’s music is full of invention and ingenuity, and with no lack of titular invitation either. On this BIS release, including first recordings and reissues, there are eight Serebrier pieces, mostly conducted by the composer, which make for a varied and diverting seventy-seven minutes’ worth.
In order of appearance. Symphonic BACH Variations (2018) for piano (Alexandre Kantorow) and orchestra (RTÉ National Symphony). From busy-bee/controlled-chaos through cinematic expansiveness, the first two sections are energetic, wild even, with plenty going on, until an uneasy calm settles (if not without hints of the ‘Dies irae’ assigned to a tuba) to close this compelling and gratifying work.
Separating the BACH (German notation) piece and Flute Concerto with Tango is the recent Laments and Hallelujahs, a Bible-inspired, suspense-filled creation that at times aims for the heavens, and which briefly if dramatically adds a chorus (Echos Del Mar Choir) to the RTÉ forces, the voices given the last sound.
As for the Flute Concerto (2008), the first movement, of five, is imbued with French whimsy – think Poulenc – and elegance, a divertissement of a piece overall, embracing Cadenza and Fantasy, during which Sharon Bezaly sparkles in terms of shapeliness and dexterity in the company of the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Richard Tognetti. The Tango itself (movement four) is a teasing affair, somewhat shadowy, stalking its prey, whereas the fast Finale shines a brilliant light.
The next three pieces are all Tango-related: Tango in Blue, true to the dance and the colour; Casi un Tango, nocturnally atmospheric; and Last Tango before Sunrise, rather sad and nostalgic. In the first two of these miniatures Serebrier conducts the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra. For Last Tango it’s back to RTÉ (Dublin), and these musicians round-off the disc with Adagio, eloquent if heavy of heart, and finally Serebrier’s sensitive 2018 transcription of Tchaikovsky’s song, None but the Lonely Heart, beautifully done.
All in all, this is a rewarding release, on BIS BIS-2423 (SACD), which despite the different sources plays through as a bespoke and superbly recorded whole, garnished with a composer-signed booklet note.