Notes and Editorial Reviews
For a detailed musical discussion of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's three piano sonatas, I refer to my review of André de Groote's interpretations . Here I also weighed de Groote's serviceable yet rather monochrome traversals against superior sonic and interpretive competition from Geoffrey Tozer (Chandos) and Matthijs Verschoor (Etcetera). If anything, Michael Schäfer surpasses his distinguished colleagues in several respects. He commands a huge, golden sonority and a supple technique that effortlessly deals with Korngold's thick chords and frequent double octaves. In addition, Schäfer brings a wider range of textural diversity and flexible phrasing to the table, resulting in greater charm and character all around. This chiefly
plays out in the first two sonatas' scherzo movements and in the Third Sonata's inner movements.
Following the delightful, unpretentious Op. 19 children's pieces, Schäfer plays Korngold's Tales of Strauss, a potboiler of Strauss-family melodies that proves surprsingly uninteresting in the context of like-minded Strauss concoctions by Rosenthal, Friedman, Tausig, Grunfeld, and others of that ilk. Without taking anything away from Martin Jones' excellent performance on Nimbus, Schäfer's more indulgent, volatile temperament takes top honors. Just compare his impassioned dive into the introductory measures leading into the Blue Danube with Jones' relatively sober approach, and you'll hear for yourself. Profil's sonics may not match Chandos or Etcetera for close-up warmth and richness, but they certainly do Schäfer's terrific pianism justice.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Tales of Strauss, Op. 21 by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Michael Schäfer (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
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