Korngold: Märchenbilder; Straussiana; Theme and Variations, Op. 42; Schauspiel Ouvertüre

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WORKS: Märchenbilder; Straussiana; Theme and Variations, Op. 42; Schauspiel Ouvertüre
PERFORMER: Bruckner Orchestra Linz/Caspar Richter
No doubt about it: the prophetically middle-named Erich Wolfgang Korngold was an astonishing child prodigy, a master by the age of 14 of the late-Romantic idiom which he clung to throughout his career. This second instalment in ASV’s Korngold orchestral series contains mainly early works: the charming Fairy Tale Pictures, orchestrated with consummate skill from piano pieces; the well constructed Theatre Overture; and an atmospheric suite from his second opera, Violanta. But there is also his last work, from more than four decades later, an economical Theme and Variations written for American high school orchestras – as well as an enjoyable suite of rescored Johann Strauss, and a piano fantasia on Strauss less deftly orchestrated by Franz Kopriva. The Linz orchestra and Caspar Richter bring an attractively light touch to this music, especially in the many patches of waltz time. Unfortunately for them, the early pieces are all duplicated on a Chandos disc by the BBC Philharmonic and Matthias Bamert which boasts equally idiomatic performances in more opulent sound. But the Chandos coupling is even earlier Korngold, part of the ballet The Snowman orchestrated by his teacher Zemlinsky. If you prefer the more wide-ranging ASV programme, you can buy it with confidence. Anthony Burton