Serenade for strings

Dag Wirén

Serenade for strings

Op. 11

About this work

Wirén, whose credo was "I believe in God, Mozart, and Carl Nielsen," seems to have been especially moved by the holy spirit of Mozart when he wrote his Serenade for Strings, the work that would become his one international success. Like Mozart's entertainment pieces for string ensemble, particularly Eine kleine Nachtmusik and the K. 136-138 divertimenti, Wirén's Serenade is breezy, spontaneous, optimistic, and compact. The first movement, "Preludium," is an Allegro molto in which a long-lined melody seems to fly over a burbling rhythm, with contrast provided by a witty, march-like tune. The Andante espressivo offers a moment of repose and an occasionally darker tone, with a serene melody stretching over a lighthearted pizzicato accompaniment. Third comes a Scherzo, Allegro vivace, that merrily skips around a central trio that seems slightly tense; again, there's a constant pizzicato undercurrent. The concluding "Marcia" was used many years ago as the theme of the BBC cultural show Monitor, and its popularity spread from there. This begins with a fast, childlike march, predominantly happy, but deflecting a couple of threatening intrusions. The middle section is a march of a more German parade-ground nature.