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ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD Highlights from the operas - archive recordings (1949) CAMBRIA CD-1032 Historical Series [57.23]

Available from at £11.50 sterling excl p&p.



ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD Highlights from the operas - archive recordings (1949)

Der Ring Des Polykrates (1915)
Tagesbuch der Laura
Violanta (1915)
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 from CPO.

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 memorable.

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.


Rob Barnett

Available from at £11.50 sterling excl p&p.

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Rob Barnett

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