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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


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Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957)
The Ring of Polykrates (1914)
Opera in one act and ten scenes - a free adaptation of the comic drama of the same name by Heinrich Teweles
Endrick Wottrich (ten) - Wilhelm Arndt, court music director
Beate Bilandzija (sop) - Laura, his wife
Jürgen Sacher (ten) - Florian Döblinger, timpanist and music copyist
Kirsten Blanck (sop) - Lieschen in Laura's service
Dietrich Henschel (bar) - Peter Vogel, Wilhelm's friend
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Klauspeter Seibel
rec. 19-25 Sept 1995, Jesus-Christus-Kirche Dahlem. DDD
CPO 999 402-2 [70.10]


This is the work of a seventeen year old composer - his first opera; more operetta, in fact, than opera. It was written in 1914 but not premiered until 1916 when it shared a double bill with his much more dramatic Violanta. The conductor was Bruno Walter and the cast included Maria Ivogün and Karl Erb.

The plot: Arndt celebrates with Laura, his young wife, his appointment as music director and his new found wealth from a legacy via his aunt. The envious Vogel pays the couple a visit and suggests that all this good fortune can only be preserved by endangering it. Arndt decides to ask Laura about her former life. She is angered but the two reflect and reconciled decide that the sacrifice to good fortune should be the calculating Vogel. They show him the door.

The music has brilliance but none of the super-heated exuberance of Die Kathrin, or Die Tote Stadt or Violanta or Der Wunder der Heliane. What strikes one consistently about this music is its light-hearted playfulness - a quality familiar from his music for his score for Errol Flynn's Adventures of Robin Hood film. Its levity links with Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem serail and Cosi fan tutte rather than with the bigger guns of Don Giovanni. The feathery joy and relaxation evident in scene 5 recalls the Dance Rhapsody of Frank Bridge. This work is more of a jeu d'esprit than anything else although at the start of scene 6 we get a premonition of the lunging romance of the fully mature writing in Die Kathrin. The music is however better summed up by the chuckling ensemble in scene 9.

This is well documented, performed and recorded in a lively theatrical ambience. Not essential Korngold unless the lighter Viennese palette appeals in all its frothy caramel.

Rob Barnett


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