- Serenade for strings (or piano, 4 hands) in C major, Op. 48
- Souvenir de Florence, for string sextet or string orchestra in D major, Op. 70
On this 1990 recording from Naxos, Philippe Entremont leads the Vienna Chamber Orchestra in expressive and satisfying performances of Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for strings in C major" and the version for string orchestra of his sextet "Souvenir de Florence." This ensemble -- noted for its many fine performances of the Classical repertoire -- is also adept in music of other periods and quite comfortable with these refined works. Tchaikovsky modeled the "Serenade" along Mozartian lines, and in it he displayed his love for the balanced proportions, transparent orchestration, and beautiful lines of the eighteenth century masters. Even so, Tchaikovsky's ardent melodies and lush harmonies are of his own time, and the orchestra is challenged to present this elegant but ambiguous music with equal measures of Romantic passion and Classical grace. Entremont holds the two qualities in an equilibrium that works admirably, and the music seems even more alive because of the tension. Also noteworthy is the variety of timbres this string orchestra produces, and its richly nuanced sonorities are most gratifying in the "Souvenir"'s chamber-like passages. The CD's sound is fine, though some listeners may find the ensemble to be a little distant and the acoustic of the Casino Baumgartner, the site of the recording sessions, too resonant.