Korngold: Märchenbilder, Op. 3; Schauspiel Ouvertüre; Excerpts from Der Schneemann & Violanta

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COMPOSERS: Korngold
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Märchenbilder, Op. 3; Schauspiel Ouvertüre; Excerpts from Der Schneemann & Violanta
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic/Matthias Bamert
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9631
This is the third disc of Korngold orchestral music from this team, which now turns to the wunderkind’s works up to the age of 17. Some sadly remain incomplete – Act II of the ballet Der Schneemann is absent and one of the Märchenbilder is presumed lost. The remainder of these two works receive their first orchestral recordings here. Der Schneemann is astonishing given that its composer was barely 11 at the time he wrote it – tuneful, witty and danceable, with the memorable violin Serenade played mellifluously by Peter Manning. But the contrast between this work and the fervid hothouse of the Prelude and Carnival from the opera Violanta is striking, showing the emotional and musical distance the composer travelled between 11 and 17. And the Schauspiel Ouvertüre, Korngold’s first work written originally for orchestra, emerges as vivid, dramatic and eminently programmable. The disc is somewhat marred by over-resonant acoustics, which gives the sound quality an echoey murkiness; the necessary lightness of touch in the Märchenbilder and Der Schneemann has little chance of emerging, while the opening of Violanta lacks the necessary mystery. Jessica Duchen

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