CD recording of three string orchestra works from around the turn of the twentieth century, performed by an ensemble on instruments strung with gut strings and played in a period-appropriate manner. The differences between this historically-informed approach, based in part on the recordings and scores of work of Willem Mengelberg, Mahler’s principle champion from 1904 to 1940 and modern practices, are discussed in Slowik’s accompanying essay. The disk includes brief excerpts from two historical recordings of the Adagietto (one by Mengelberg, one by Bruno Walter), and a reading of Schoenberg’s program notes for Verklärte Nacht read by Richard Hoffmann, the composer’s secretary during the last three years of his life in Los Angeles.
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CD recording of four important string orchestra works from the half-century before the end of the Second World War, performed by an ensemble whose instruments are strung with gut strings, played in a period-appropriate manner. The differences between this historically informed approach and modern practices are highlighted in Slowik’s accompanying essay, which also discusses the works and provides analytical insights, illustrated in special additional tracks on the CD, into the harmonic/motivic metamorphoses referred to in the Strauss title.
CD recording of Bach’s dramatic narrative of the Passion According to St. John, played on period instruments and sung by a 12-voice chorus of soloists. The two discs can be programmed to allow listeners to compare the standard version of the work with the version Bach re-wrote for a 1725 performance. Slowik’s extensive accompanying essay has been cited as among the best of its kind for the detailed introduction it provides to the work’s history and structure.
The first period-instrument CD recording of the complete Beethoven piano trios, played by the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society’s Castle Trio. The Trio’s Grammy Award-winning pianist Lambert Orkis uses five different fortepianos, illustrating the rapid development of the instrument during Beethoven’s lifetime, including one made by Conrad Graf (maker of Beethoven’s last piano) now in the Smithsonian collection. Slowik’s accompanying essays discuss the music, the instruments, and the Castle Trio’s approach to the works, which was influenced by Beethoven pupil Carl Czerny’s treatise, "On the Proper Performance of Beethoven’s Works for the Pianoforte."
CD recording of two important works by the German Romantic violinist and composer Louis Spohr, played on eight Stradivarius instruments, including the Ole Bull and Greffuhle violins, the Axelrod viola, and the Servais and Marylebone cellos from the Smithsonian collection. Slowik’s accompanying essay discusses the works, including reflections on Brahm's debt to Spohr’s Sextet.
CD recording of the great cello quintet of Schubert, played on five Stradivarius instruments, including the Ole Bull and Greffuhle violins, the Axelrod viola, and the Servais and Marylebone cellos from the Smithsonian collection. Slowik’s cello colleague is the legendary Dutch cellist, Anner Bylsma, who is joined by his L’Archibudelli colleague violinist Vera Beths, soloists in the recording of the Schubert Rondo for solo violin and strings that rounds out this CD.
CD recording, played on eight Stradivarius instruments from the collections of the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress (including the Smithsonian’s Ole Bull and Greffuhle violins, the Axelrod viola, and the Servais and Marylebone cellos), of Felix Mendelssohn’s Octet, arguably the most important work of its kind in the string repertoire, paired with his pupil Neils Gade’s similarly scored but little-known masterpiece. John Newsom, Chief of the Music Division of the Library of Congress, where Mendelssohn’s autograph score to the Octet resides, has contributed an accompanying essay discussing the works.
CD recording of two great middle-period Haydn string quartets, played on period instruments by the Smithson String Quartet—Jaap Schroeder and Marilyn McDonald, violins; Judson Griffin, viola; and Kenneth Slowik, cello—resident artists of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society from 1982–1991. Slowik’s accompanying essay discusses the works and their dedicatee, Johann Tost.