Korngold: Military March; Cello Concerto; Symphonic Serenade; Piano Concerto in C sharp for the left hand

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Korngold
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Military March; Cello Concerto; Symphonic Serenade; Piano Concerto in C sharp for the left hand
PERFORMER: Peter Dixon (cello)Howard Shelley (piano)BBC Philharmonic/Matthias Bamert
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9508
The Korngold revival is gathering fabulous momentum as the composer’s centenary (29 May 1997) approaches. Now Matthias Bamert and the BBC Philharmonic give us the first ever recording of the charming military march written by Korngold for his regiment in the First World War, the best-yet recording of the bizarre Left Hand Piano Concerto and full-blooded accounts of the Cello Concerto and Symphonic Serenade, all delivered with the sensitivity and sensuality that their earlier recording of the Sinfonietta also boasted. My reservation is that sometimes there is a lack of tension and bite here. Korngold may have gone to Hollywood, but he is not all sweetness and light – he’s a composer of extremes. Peter Dixon in the Cello Concerto has a beautifully limpid tone in the lyrical moments, but lacks the equally important acidic, sardonic element. The earlier Piano Concerto (1924), falling between Korngold’s two greatest operas, Die tote Stadt and Das Wunder der Heliane, demands a fever pitch of excitement (tremolando strings, glissandi galore, piercing trumpets) bordering on hysteria that never quite emerges here. Howard Shelley is lucid and accomplished, but a little too nice. The Serenade, also combining languid melodiousness with bristlingly complicated contrapuntal writing, fares better, with a wonderful sense of mystery in the slow movement. Jessica Duchen

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