Carole Farley, SEREBRIER: Symphony No 3 / Elegy for Strings / Fantasia

Anastasia Tsioulcas

By Anastasia Tsioulcas

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Wistful, dark beauty

Jose Serebrier is probably best known as a conductor, from his early days of being mentored by Stokowski, Dorati and Szell to his recent Latin Grammy win. But as the eight works on this collection make clear, his work as a composer — encouraged by such teachers as Aaron Copland — deserves to be far more widely known. This varied program ranges far and wide over Serebrier's output, from the brooding Elegy for Strings, written when he was just 14, to 2003's richly colored Symphony No. 3, penned in just a week while a recording deadline loomed. Although the pieces included here were written over a span of more than 50 years, many are shot through with a similarly wistful, dark beauty that belies the passage of time. Serebrier infuses these pieces with a deeply dramatic sensibility that never curdles into mawkishness. He also offers up some surprising — and surprisingly satisfying — choices, such as two works for accordion and orchestra (Passacaglia and Perpetuum Mobile). Recordings of Serebrier's work are unjustly hard to find, and this recording is a real treasure.