ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD Highlights from
the operas - archive recordings (1949)
Der Ring Des Polykrates (1915)
Tagesbuch der Laura
Wie Schon Sied Ihr
Die Tote Stadt (1920)
Gluck Das Mir Verblieb
Mein Sehnen, Mein Wahnen
Der Wunder Der Heliane (1927)
Ich Ging Zu Ihm
Die Kathrin (1938)
Ich Bin Ein Liedersanger
Soldaten Marsch Und Gebet
Szene In Nachtlokal
Arie Der Malignac
Austrian State Radio Orchestra, Vienna (1949) cond: Wilhelm Loibner,
Joseph Strobl, Gottfried Kassowitz, composer
These cream and chocolate eclairs from the Korngold operas contain much that
is surprising conveyed in a clarity of sound surprising in these forty year
old radio archive tapes.
The recordings are, of course, mono and they labour under the (lightly-worn)
defect of age and rather constricted AM radio quality. That said they are
clear enough and I detect none of the wobble and cycling occasionally to
be found on tapes from similar sources. The tapes have been rescued from
the Korngold family archive and there is the hint of more to come in the
notes by movie maven, the late Tony Thomas. In fact this remains an isolated
album. If there is more in the historic category then I would like to hear
it given the manifest success of this album.
Now normally I take very badly to highlights albums however here the material
is pretty obscure. Until recently his operas were unrecorded. The trend began
in the mid-1970s with Die Tote Stadt (RCA) followed by Violanta
(CBS) and latterly by the glorious Die Kathrin and Polykrates
Tagesbuch Der Laura has the delightfully young Gundula Janowitz in a gracious
aria like a nightingale floating notes ecstatically one after another. Then
comes the single longest track in the anthology: Wie Schon Sied Ihr
with Heinz Hoppe in great form as if he had swept in from a performance of
Das Lied von der Erde; all plunging, heady romanticism and gravity-
defying high notes.
Gluck Das Mir Verblieb is the first of two extracts from Die Tote Stadt
but it is Alfred Poell's solid as a rock voice in Mein Sehnen and
the delicious vocalising (2.46) of Rosl Schwaiger that make this disc so
The Heliane aria takes us into Barbirolli territory as a steadily growing
climax is tense sculpted and built. I wonder what Barbirolli would have made
of the Korngold symphony - one of the major what-ifs!
Then comes the six extracts from Die Kathrin. The second of these:
Ich Bin Ein Liedersanger returns Janowitz to centre-stage, this time
with Rudolf Christ. The two singers bring superb urgency, intoxicating high
notes and gorgeous poetry to the song. However even this is not the peak.
That comes in the Szene in Nachtlokal with urgent almost desperate
pacing constantly pushing the pace. Dermota and the beyond criticism Rosschwaiger
sing and enunciate at a breakneck rate in a triumphal race of coloratura
display. Poell is excellent in the Malignac song.
The booklet has four pages of helpful English only notes and two charming
photos of EWK, the best of which is the candid of Korngold at the piano with
his wife Luzi looking on.
What more can I say. If you warm to the EMI CD of Maggie Teyte in Turandot
do not miss this disc. There are moments of comparable wonder here.
Available from DIMus@aol.com at £11.50
sterling excl p&p.
Other Korngold reviews