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.
This is as complete a representation as humanly possible of all the music scored for violin and piano that Franz Liszt composed, arranged, or had some creative hand in. The 17 works span Liszt's entire career, from the young composer's elegant Zwei Walzer to his experimental late period (the two Elegies and the stark, foreboding La lugubre gondola).
This Finlandia disc, which sadly never got a US release and is hard to find there, surveys Per Nørgård's works for strings across a broad span of the Danish composer's output, from the 1950s to the 1990s. All of these express the perennial concerns of Nørgård's work: ambiguity, "infererence" and the development of the tonal tradition. Juha Kangas leads the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra.
The famous Russian pianist-composer, who became an American citizen in 1958, was as well known in 1930s Paris as Stravinsky and heir to a number of Slav cultures in Europe and Asia. In the course of long visits, he also analysed the music of the Far East (China, Japan, Korea…), endeavouring to find a common language in the various folklores he discovered.