Korngold: Abschiedslieder; Einfache Lieder, Op. 9; Much Ado About Nothing

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Korngold
LABELS: ASV
WORKS: Abschiedslieder; Einfache Lieder, Op. 9; Much Ado About Nothing
PERFORMER: Gigi Mitchell-Velasco (mezzo-soprano), Stephen Gould (tenor), Jochem Hochstenbach (piano); Linz Mozart Choir, Linz Bruckner Orchestra/Caspar Richter
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 1131
The focus of this third disc in the Linz Bruckner Orchestra’s Korngold series (the others were reviewed in June 2000 and January 2002) is on two of the composer’s song cycles, his Op. 9 Simple Songs and Songs of Farewell. Both featured on the recent Harmonia Mundi Lieder disc from Dietrich Henschel (reviewed in November), but here they can be heard in the composer’s typically translucent orchestrations (apart from ‘Das Heldengrab am Pruth’ from Op. 9, whose full score is lost), spaciously played under Caspar Richter.

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Gigi Mitchell-Velasco, a Christa Ludwig protégée, makes much of the mixture of naivety and sophistication in Op. 9, though her firmness of line occasionally wavers. In the Mahlerian Abschiedslieder, however, her more forwardly placed voice and contralto-edged tonal richness make more of an impact than the acclaimed recording by Linda Finnie on Chandos, and her way with the words is just as impressive.

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Also on this disc is Tomorrow, a ripe miniature for mezzo, wordless chorus and orchestra derived from Korngold’s film score to Margaret Kennedy’s The Constant Nymph, a first recording for a choral Prayer written in 1941 for his Hollywood rabbi and the personable suite from his 1919 incidental music to Much Ado About Nothing, which the orchestra tackles with real zest. Matthew Rye