Korngold: Märchenbilder, Op. 3; Don Quixote; Four Little Caricatures; Much Ado About Nothing; Four Waltzes

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COMPOSERS: Korngold
LABELS: Carlton
WORKS: Märchenbilder, Op. 3; Don Quixote; Four Little Caricatures; Much Ado About Nothing; Four Waltzes
PERFORMER: Ingrid Jacoby (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 30366 01102
Entire discs of short pieces risk sounding ‘bitty’. It is a tribute to the wealth of Korngold’s imagination that every item in this collection of miniatures presents a world of ingenuity and character – the very qualities which later made him one of the founding fathers of film music. Yet Korngold was still a child when he wrote the best of these piano works. The Märchenbilder (written when Korngold was 14) are particularly delightful, and the Wunderkind was even younger when he completed the Don Quixote set, which evokes scenes ranging from Sancho Panza and his donkey to the grandeur of Don Quixote’s conversion and death with a mastery of vision and manipulation of harmony unequalled by many adult composers. The Four Little Waltzes, here in their debut recording, each portray a young girl – and are actually sophisticated Viennese numbers of considerable invention and charm. This kaleidoscope of wit and fantasy is completed by the inclusion of the four ‘caricatures’ (imitating famous contemporary composers), three pieces from Much Ado About Nothing, the glittering Tales from Strauss and, not least, the exquisitely nostalgic Pierrot Tanzlied arranged from the opera Die tote Stadt. Jacoby’s playing is robust and engaging, with an excellent sense of quasi-orchestral colour. The sound on the early pressing I received was ‘not the final recording quality’. Jessica Duchen

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