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).
Few violinists can move between a modern instrument and a period one with such ease—not to mention with such an idiomatic approach to so many styles of music—as Isabelle Faust. Following her award-winning set of the Mozart violin concertos, the German is joined by the ever-stylish keyboard player Kristian Bezuidenhout for Bach’s sonatas for violin and harpsichord. Both instruments sound magnificent, and these two great players bring breathtaking invention and imagination to the six sonatas. The humanity and warmth of Bach’s music is extraordinary, especially when played with the passion and flair encountered here.