Scholar/conductor Sir Charles Mackerras, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award to be presented this year at the Cannes Music Festival, garnered an unprecedented success for his recordings with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra of the complete Brahms Symphonies on Telarc (released separately and also issued as a box set, 3CD-80450, in 1997); the critics praising his insightful tempi and phrasing, as well as the newfound clarity of texture in the orchestra. Now he leads the SCO in a beautiful follow-up recording, this time of the composer's youthful Serenades with the same reduced orchestral forces used on the Brahms Symphonies.
The serenade form was one employed by other composers before Brahms, including Mozart, Schubert, and Beethoven. The form had evolved over the centuries from a nocturnal song of courtship into a suite of dances and marches. Brahms' Serenades were his first purely orchestral works to be published. The First Serenade was originally conceived as a chamber work. Only later was it adapted by the composer to a full orchestral score. It was completed in 1858, the same year in which Brahms began to work on the Second Serenade, completed in 1859 but revised in 1875.
Upcoming recording projects with Sir Charles Mackerras and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra include a complete recording of Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio. The opera was filmed, as a joint production between Antelope Productions and the BBC-2 in the UK, in full costume on location at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, and will be aired by the BBC sometime late in the Spring of 2000. The recording, made in Dundee, Scotland, is scheduled for release in June.