WORKS: Abschiedslieder; Lieder; Piano Quartet, Op. 15; Suite for Piano and String Quartet, Op. 23
PERFORMER: Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano), Bengt Forsberg (piano); Kjell Lysell, Ulf Forsberg (violin), Nils-Erik Sparf (viola), Mats Lidström (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 459 631-2
Nothing could pronounce Korngold more joyously mainstream than this veritable feast of his music from DG. The pianist Bengt Forsberg is the motivating force behind the recording and he tackles Korngold’s extremely demanding piano parts with enthusiasm and apparently orchestral capacity. He and his colleagues approach both songs and chamber music with exceptional attention to detail: every nuance and texture is expressive to the full, bringing out Korngold’s entire, sumptuous emotional and imaginative range. If anything, the Swedish ensemble almost errs in the Quintet and the Suite towards too much luxury: certain slow moments could benefit from more sense of motion, rather than lingering extensively over chocolatey delights which are rich enough already. But the energetic sections are wonderfully vigorous.
Anne Sofie von Otter brings the same sensitivity to the nuances of the songs and their texts, as well as a true sense of intimacy. Her tone throughout is absolutely radiant and she phrases with carefully judged portamenti, as in ‘Mond so gehst du wieder auf’ of the Op. 14 ‘Abschiedlieder’. Several sets of songs here have their world premiere recordings: the Four Shakespeare Songs, Op. 31, the three Op. 22 songs – which include ‘Was Du mir bist?’, on which the Suite’s fourth movement is based – and two charming, early ‘Einfache Lieder’. Finally, Marietta’s Lied from ‘Die Tote Stadt’ works beautifully in Forsberg’s transcription. The recording is bright, resonant and warm. Jessica Duchen