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Rendezvous With Korngold / Von Otter, Forsberg, Et Al


Release Date: 01/12/1999 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 459631   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Anne Sofie von OtterBengt ForsbergNils-Erik SparfMats Lidström,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 59 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The Abschiedslieder that open this two-CD collection were composed between 1915 and 1921, so they are exactly contemporary with Korngold’s most famous opera, Die tote Stadt. They suit Anne Sofie von Otter so perfectly that they might have been written for her. Both Maria Olszewska, who gave the first performance, and Rosette Anday, who recorded them with the composer in 1924, were really contraltos, without von Otter’s bright sound – she transforms the songs. Brendan Carroll, Korngold’s biographer, describes the fourth, though earliest, song ‘Gefasster Abschied’ as one of Korngold’s ‘finest’, with a melody that is ‘seemingly endless’.

This is one of Korngold’s problems, eventually solved for him when he became a film composer
Read more and had to obey the cutting-room clock. The Quintet, Op. 15 is awash with gorgeous melody but at 31 minutes seems just a little too long, as if he couldn’t make up his mind when to stop. The Suite, Op. 23 is even longer, but is a more sophisticated work in five movements. Composed for piano left-hand, it was commissioned by Paul Wittgenstein after the success of Korngold’s Piano Concerto in 1923 – he was the first composer to take up Wittgenstein’s challenge, anticipating Ravel by several years.

The Adagio from the Quintet makes use of a theme from one of the Abschiedslieder and similarly the Suite takes its slow-movement from ‘Was du mir bist?’ from the Op. 22 Lieder. In an essay in the booklet, Bengt Forsberg confronts the anti-Korngold reactions of people to whom he represents ‘bad taste’. He says that he and the other instrumentalists experienced a ‘state of frenzy and ecstasy’ during the recording sessions. This communicates itself throughout the programme – just as it did at the Korngold centenary concert they gave at the Wigmore Hall in 1997.

The two sets of Shakespeare songs make an interesting contrast. The Songs of the Clown were composed for Max Reinhardt’s production called Shakespeare’s Women, Clowns and Songs. The opening ‘Come away, death’ is Mahleresque to such a degree that one feels Korngold was making a sad farewell to Vienna – he composed the songs there in 1937 and left the manuscripts where they were destroyed by the Nazis in 1938. In Hollywood in 1941 he rewrote them from memory. This very brief cycle, lasting just under nine minutes, ought to become a fixture in English-speaking singers’ recital programmes. The Four Shakespeare Songs for the same production include the Willow Song from Othello, ‘Under the greenwood tree’, ‘Blow, blow thou winter wind’ and ‘When birds do sing’. These sound more American in their harmonies and the last song has a jagged, chirruping figure in the accompaniment that suggests the increasing Americanization of Korngold. These are their first recordings, as are the earlier Drei Lieder, Op. 22 and the two early songs Nachts and Die Geniale.

Von Otter brings beautiful tone, perfect diction and a rapt sense of submerging herself in the music. As an encore she sings Forsberg’s arrangement of Korngold’s most famous tune, ‘Marietta’s Lied’ from Die tote Stadt. No one already interested in Korngold’s music will need any encouragement to acquire this. To those who have so far resisted the appeal of Korngold’s ‘unpredictable’ music as Forsberg puts it, I would recommend this as the ideal way of sampling his particular brand of Viennese charm.

-- Patrick O'Connor, Gramophone
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Works on This Recording

1. Abschiedslieder, Op. 14: no 1, Sterbelied by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano), Bengt Forsberg (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/1993 
Venue:  Studio Lankwitz, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: German 
2. Abschiedslieder, Op. 14: no 2, Dies eine kann mein Sehnen by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano), Bengt Forsberg (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1998 
Venue:  Concertgebouw, Nijmwegen, Netherlands 
Length: 2 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Language: German 
3. Abschiedslieder, Op. 14: no 3, Mond, so gehst du wieder auf by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano), Bengt Forsberg (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/1998 
Venue:  Nacka Aula, Nacka, Sweden 
Length: 4 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Language: German 
4. Abschiedslieder, Op. 14: no 4, Gefasster Abschied by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano), Bengt Forsberg (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/1991 
Venue:  Studio Lankwitz, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Language: German 
5. Quintet for Piano and Strings in E major, Op. 15 by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Nils-Erik Sparf (Viola), Mats Lidström (Cello), Ulf Forsberg (Violin),
Kjell Lysell (Violin), Bengt Forsberg (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/1998 
Venue:  Swedish Broadcasting Corp., Stockholm 
Length: 31 Minutes 25 Secs. 
6. Songs of the Clown, Op. 29 by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Bengt Forsberg (Piano), Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; USA 
Date of Recording: 01/1998 
Venue:  Nacka Aula, Nacka, Sweden 
Length: 8 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: English 
7. Nachts by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Bengt Forsberg (Piano), Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/1998 
Venue:  Nacka Aula, Nacka, Sweden 
Length: 2 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Language: German 
8. Die Geniale by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano), Bengt Forsberg (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/1998 
Venue:  Nacka Aula, Nacka, Sweden 
Length: 0 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Language: German 
9. Lieder (4), Op. 31 by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Bengt Forsberg (Piano), Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 01/1998 
Venue:  Nacka Aula, Nacka, Sweden 
Length: 9 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: English 
10. Lieder (3), Op. 22 by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano), Bengt Forsberg (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928-1929 
Date of Recording: 01/1998 
Venue:  Nacka Aula, Nacka, Sweden 
Length: 7 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: German 
11. Die tote Stadt, Op. 12: Glück, das mir verblieb "Mariettalied" by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Bengt Forsberg (Piano), Mats Lidström (Cello), Nils-Erik Sparf (Viola),
Kjell Lysell (Violin), Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/1998 
Venue:  Nacka Aula, Nacka, Sweden 
Length: 5 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Arranged: Bengt Forsberg 
12. Suite for Piano left hand and Strings, Op. 23 by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Ulf Forsberg (Violin), Mats Lidström (Cello), Kjell Lysell (Violin),
Bengt Forsberg (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/1997 
Venue:  Swedish Broadcasting Corp., Stockholm 
Length: 36 Minutes 34 Secs. 

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