Korngold: Cello Concerto; Der Sturm; Excerpts from Das Wunder der Heliane, Much Ado About Nothing, Der Ring des Polykrates, Der Schneemann & Die Kathrin

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Korngold
LABELS: ASV
WORKS: Cello Concerto; Der Sturm; Excerpts from Das Wunder der Heliane, Much Ado About Nothing, Der Ring des Polykrates, Der Schneemann & Die Kathrin
PERFORMER: Wendy Nielsen (soprano), Zuill Bailey (cello); Linz Theatre Chorus, Linz Bruckner Orchestra/Caspar Richter
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 1146
Korngold’s Cello Concerto is flavour of the month: it features on our cover CD, appears in the Korngold DVD I review in this issue and is the main work in this latest release in ASV’s fascinating survey of the composer’s music. Like the three earlier discs (reviewed June 2000, January 2002 and February 2003) the programme is mixed, with vocal works rubbing shoulders with those for orchestra. The most ardent account of the Concerto, by Francisco Gabarro, is on a hard-to-find RCA release of Korngold film music, but worth tracking down. The soloist here, the young American cellist Zuill Bailey, sounds a little too diffident – or perhaps the recorded balance has robbed him of the limelight – so that one notices more of the orchestra than him. And what an excellent ensemble the Linz orchestra is, warmly recorded here.

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One selling point for this disc is the world premiere performance, no less, of a recently discovered Heine setting for chorus and orchestra, Der Sturm, a five-minute work from 1913 that feels as though it should be part of something larger. There are also three newly restored movements from the delightful Much Ado About Nothing incidental music and the Waltz from the 11-year-old composer’s Der Schneemann.

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The rest of the disc comprises excerpts from Korngold’s operas, with Canadian soprano Wendy Nielsen a passable soloist – she certainly lacks the vocal eroticism that Anna Tomowa-Sintow uses to suggest the truth behind the innocent-sounding sentiments of the aria ‘Ich ging zu ihm’ in her complete recording of Das Wunder der Heliane (Decca). Matthew Rye