Although Korngold’s ‘complete works for violin and piano’ make up a reasonably full disc, it is only fair to point out that the Violin Sonata is the single work that is not an arrangement from one of his other pieces. Yet this Sonata, written at the age of 15 for Carl Flesch and Artur Schnabel no less, is a fine example of his early style, with its echoes of Zemlinsky and early Schoenberg. The young Dutch violinist Sonja van Beek and German pianist Andreas Frölich negotiate its challenges with ease: as in Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata, the pianist has as tough a role as the melody instrument. Much Ado about Nothing is one of several arrangements of a suite of four movements derived from incidental music to Shakespeare’s play written in 1918, performed here with affection and a silken suavity. The remainder of the repertoire is made up of arrangements of Korngold lollipops, hit numbers from his operas, such as the unforgettable ‘Marietta’s Lied’ from Die tote Stadt, arranged by the composer as salon pieces and popularised by Kreisler and his ilk. Here, the almost vocal qualities of van Beek’s tone come into their own. An essential disc for the Korngold addict.
The Ricercar Consort is an ensemble of instrumentalists devoted to repertory largely from the seventeenth century. It is generally considered one of the foremost chamber groups in the genre of Baroque music. Active for about three decades, it has already made over 50 recordings and given countless concerts across the globe. The ensemble consists of about six members, though the number can vary to accommodate performance of small and large works. Many of its concerts and recordings, for example, involve singers, while others are strictly instrumental.
In 1882 Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, who actually was active only as an interpreting pianist, composed eight truly virtuosic piano pieces that her husband would publish after her much too early death. Heinrich's own piano pieces, now recorded in highly poetic style for the first time on three CDs by Natasa Veljkovic, a Vienna-based pianist , show that Herzogenberg had what was very much his own independent voice and truly meriting its own hearing - especially in this enthralling interpretation!
German poet and musician Oswald von Wolkenstein (circa 1377-1445) made sure his legacy was secure by having his works compiled into collections during his lifetime. While he was certainly the author of the texts, it is less clear how many of the pieces, which number over 130, include his original music, and how many had his texts applied to preexisting works. In any case, it's an intriguing and attractive body of work, and this collection of 18 of his pieces, plus three other works, makes a fine introduction to his legacy.
Seemingly on an impulse, Robert Schumann wrote his Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129, during two weeks in 1850, heading towards the last years of lucidity and life. Schumann may never have heard it played as the concerto did not premiere until seven months after his death. On this disc we have the opportunity of hearing not only the Cello Concerto but three other pieces written for cello and piano, the Adagio and Allegro perhaps being the most well known..
Like a great, mysterious nebula, the dazzling Missa Salisburgensis arches over the world of polychoral music by virtue of the exceptional complexity and richness of its means, which are deployed to create a unique expression in sound and space, symbolising with extraordinary exuberance and efficiency all the strength and grandeur of divine power, political and religious power. Shrouded in mystery and regarded by specialists as the Everest of polychoral compositions, this work was discovered by a Salzburg grocer in 1870. At first it was mistakenly attributed to the composer Orazio Benevoli, but now, as Professor Ernst Hintermaier explains (see his accompanying commentary), it is unanimously considered to be among the masterpieces of Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, one of the greatest and most talented Austrian composers of the Baroque period.
In the '80s there were those listeners who thought that Heinrich Schiff might redeem cello performance practice from fatal beauty and lethal elegance. Aside from the burly and brawny Rostropovich, more and more cellists were advocating a performance style whose ideals were perfect intonation and graceful phrasing. In some repertoire, say, Fauré, these are perfectly legitimate goals. In other repertoire, Beethoven and Brahms, say, it is a terrible mistake. In Bach's Cello Suites, as the fay and fragile Yo-Yo Ma recordings make clear, it was a terminal mistake. Not so in Schiff's magnificently muscular 1984 recordings of the suites: Schiff's rhythms, his tempos, his tone, his intonation, and especially his interpretations were anything but fay or fragile. In Schiff's performance, Bach's Cello Suites are not the neurasthenic music of a composer supine with dread and despair in the dark midnight of the soul, but the forceful music of a mature composer in full control of himself and his music.
It is clear that the conductor of this 1725 work, Ludger Remy, considers this short Passion a revelation, "philosophizing is nothing other than a preparation for death" (de Montaigne). Remy has disinterred it from Stoelzel's lifetime corpus of seven passions and 900(!) cantatas and premiered it here. This passion is based on a once-famous original (non-liturgical) text by the Hamburg poet and burger B. H. Brockes. As its title states, it is strongly, nay graphically, focused on the "Suffering and Death of Jesus." The text emphasizes bloody rites of whipping, thorning, beating, and crucifying, and bloody feelings about the blood sacrifice of Jesus: "my entrails screech on hot coals" (Peter), "rend my flesh, crush my bones…the world is fit for flames" (Judas). The point of this Pietistic text and frightful imagery may have been to so thoroughly terrify the congregation that only Jesus could truly rescue them, for all else collapses in utter betrayal and failure…By tertius3 (MI United States)
The German seventeenth- and early eighteenthcentury Lied is an area of baroque music still comparatively unexplored by singers and record companies. In the mid 1950s Archiv were first in the field with two excellent LPs of songs by Adam Krieger, perhaps the greatest composer of German continuo Lieder (11/55 – nla) and Hans Valentin Rathgeber and Johann Caspar Seyfert (8/57 – nla). Much more recently, Cantus Can recorded a programme of songs by Heinrich Albert which I reviewed in June 1992; otherwise, apart from mixed programmes which might have included a song or two by Johann Philipp Krieger, Telemann or Görner, there has been little or nothing. That is, until now, with the appearance of this fine recital by the countertenor Andreas Scholl.
"This new SACD by the Hymnus Choirboys of Stuttgart and Musica Fiata demonstrates how Schütz worked with opulent Italian impressions while serving as court chapel master in Dresden and employs the finest 2+2+2 technique to transport lavish sound and Venetian grandezza straight to you in your living room…" ~prestoclassical