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Korngold: Werke Fur Violine & Klavier; Streichsextett

Korngold / Gaede / Liu
Release Date: 01/29/2013 
Label:  Phil.harmonie   Catalog #: 6013   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Daniel GaedeXuesu Liu
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonisches Streichsextett
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

KORNGOLD Der Schneemann: Serenade. Caprice fantastique. Mariettas Lied. Mädchen im Brautgemacht. Holzapfel und Schlehwein. Gartenszene. Mummenschanz. Tanzlied des Pierrot. String Sextet 1 Daniel Gaede (vn); Xuesu Liu (pn); 1 String Sextet Berlin PHILHARMONIE 06013 (63:41)

Philharmonie’s program of music from Erich Wolfgang Read more Korngold’s early years falls into two parts: a selection of his music for violin and piano and his String Sextet. The music for violin and piano comes from his ballet, Der Schneemann , from his opera, Die tote Stadt (“Mariettas Lied” and “Tanzlied des Pierrot”), and his incidental music for Much Ado about Nothing ( Mädchen im Brautgemacht, Holzapfel und Schlehwein, Gartenszene , and Mummenschanz ), and the Fairy Tale Pictures for piano ( Caprice fantastique aka The Goblins ). Violinist Daniel Gaede’s part of the program (with pianist Xuesu Liu) opens with the Serenade from Der Schneemann , a nostalgic, romantic piece written by Korngold in his early teens, that showcases Gaede’s idiomatic sense of nuance and gemütlich warmth. He takes the Caprice fantastique at a much slower tempo than does Gil Shaham on Deutsche Grammophon 289 463 483, Fanfare 24:3, but he employs eerie sul ponticello effects to create such a suggestion of the eldritch that it still vividly represents its subject. The two pieces from Die tote Stadt frame the incidental music to Shakespeare. In the first, Mariettas Lied , Gaede plays with restraint what otherwise might have been effusive and treacly, but he warms to the somewhat similar, but more overtly expressive, incidental music, Mädchen im Brautgemacht , from Much Ado about Nothing , with its shifting harmonic ground (Shaham plays it with considerable beauty of tone but perhaps less idiomatic nuance on Deutsche Grammophon 439 886-2, Fanfare 18:3—Joseph Lin and Benjamin Loeb play the Suite with considerable nuance on Naxos 8.557067, Fanfare 32:3). Gaede is incisive in Holzapfel und Schlehwein , giving as much raucous comic relief to the program as the passages in the play, although Gaede and Liu bring a tenderness to its more lyrical moments that raises it above the level of simple humor. He and Liu raise that lyricism to a higher level in the Gartenszene , in which he employs widely scooping—almost sobbing—portamentos that imbue it, in this performance, anyway, with sentiment similar to that which emerges in this reading of the Tanzlied des Pierrot (Lin’s and Loeb’s recital includes almost all of this repertoire — Schneemann, Caprice Fantastique, Mariettas Lied, Tanzlied , and the suite, with the Violin Sonata taking the place of the sextet; and, but for Philharmonie’s more vibrant recorded sound and Gaede’s more genial manner, might serve as an alternative for those who wish to collect only the violin music).

Although it may have come from roughly the same period, the sextet seems at once more complex and more somber in the Philharmonic String Sextet Berlin’s rhetorically eloquent but highly serious performance. The recorded sound, from more than 10 years earlier than that of the violin pieces, seems to underline the differences rather than the similarities in the two halves of the program. Still, the ensemble manages to convey the score’s romantic lushness, and the sumptuousness of both its harmonies and its textures, especially in the first movement. If some of Korngold’s film music seems to shift too abruptly from one harmony or one motive to another the sextet’s Adagio unfolds with a luxurious sense of leisure in the ensemble’s performance, yet with hardly a suggestion of decadent indulgence. And herein lies an answer to those who compare this 17-year-old’s work to Arnold Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht , in which some listeners (including, apparently, Anselm Cybinski, who wrote the booklet notes) might sense strains of an almost hysterical ultra-romanticism. The Intermezzo seems to be swimming in shifting metrics; but it settles down though remains just as allusive in the most stable passages, due to the performers’ textural subtlety (near the end, there’s a passage in which the violin leaps with a disjointed sprightliness that suggests similar passages in Korngold’s almost 30-year-later Violin Concerto). The finale ( so rasch als möglich ) may suggest in the composer’s virtuosity, as well as the virtuosity he calls upon his musicians to produce (and even in some similar rhythmic passages and devices), Felix Mendelssohn’s Octet, written when that composer had reached only about Korngold’s age. Ensemble Caméléon (Challenge CC 72368, Fanfare 35:4) accentuates more aggressively, which seems to make the work sound more angular and less lush, at least than the Philharmonic’s String Sextet does. The Doric String Quartet with guests play it on Chandos 10707 in a reading similarly allusive to (if a bit less relaxed than) that of the Berlin ensemble (but compare the latter’s poignancy in the first movement’s slow theme), a reading that Arthur Lintgen praised for its “total immersion and sympathy for Korngold’s unique style” in Fanfare 36:1, and that boasts recorded sound with great clarity and definition, especially in the lower registers.

For those who admire Erich Wolfgang Korngold as warmly as they do Sea-Hawk Korngold, Philharmonie’s performances should be most welcome, but anyone with the slightest interest in the music of the period should greet it almost equally warmly. Strongly recommended.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Der Schneemann: Serenade by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Daniel Gaede (Violin), Xuesu Liu (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1908; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Studio P4, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Märchenbilder (7) for Piano, Op. 3: Caprice fantastique "Wichtelmännchen" by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Xuesu Liu (Piano), Daniel Gaede (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910 
Venue:  Studio P4, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Die tote Stadt, Op. 12: O Tanz! O Rausch! "Marietta's Lute Song" by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Daniel Gaede (Violin), Xuesu Liu (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  Studio P4, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Much Ado about Nothing, Op. 11: Suite by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Daniel Gaede (Violin), Xuesu Liu (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918-1919; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Studio P4, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 12 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Sextet for Strings in D major, Op. 10 by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonisches Streichsextett
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/2000 
Venue:  Telos Studios 
Length: 32 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Die tote Stadt, Op. 12: Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen "Tanzlied des Pierrot" by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Daniel Gaede (Violin), Xuesu Liu (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1920 
Venue:  Studio P4, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 35 Secs. 

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