Korngold: Vier Abschiedslieder, Op. 14

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COMPOSERS: Korngold
LABELS: Signum
WORKS: Vier Abschiedslieder, Op. 14; Songs of the Clown, Op. 29; Four Shakespeare Songs, Op. 31; Sonnet für Wein, Op. 41; Unvergänglichkeit, Op. 27 etc
PERFORMER: Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano), William Dazeley (baritone), Iain Burnside (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD 160

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This Korngold recital encompasses much the same territory as Dietrich Henschel’s Harmonia Mundi collection from 2002, bar that disc’s resuscitation of some of the composer’s juvenilia.

Most of Korngold’s songs, though, date from his adulthood, and this new disc features seven of the published sets, from the Abschiedslieder of 1920 to the Hollywood-imbued Five Songs Op. 38 from the 1940s, as well as the single, nostalgic ‘Sonnett für Wien’ of 1953, his last song.

Sarah Connolly and William Dazeley share the vocal honours, each taking possession of single sets of songs but also splitting works such as the Abschiedslieder between them. Both singers respond magnificently to Korngold’s testing vocal lines, with their wide leaps and need for solid legato. Connolly’s rich mezzo comes into its own here, the opening lines of ‘Mond, so gehst du wieder auf’ a case in point.

Dazeley uses his tonal range to good effect, too, though he’s particularly successful in the quick-wittedness of the Songs of the Clown from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Iain Burnside accompanies with his customary insight.

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Sonically, the singers’ voices project well, but Burnside’s piano sounds a bit muffled and the acoustic as a whole comes across as a little dry and impersonalised. Matthew Rye