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.
Pilar Lorengar never achieved the fame and recognition of some of her Spanish peers, such as Victoria de los Angeles and Teresa Berganza; because of this, her singing is relatively unknown to contemporary listeners. Fortunately, anyone with interest can get to know this terrific soprano through The Art of Pilar Lorengar, Decca's two-disc retrospective featuring operatic excerpts and songs of Spanish composers. It is well worth the time; Lorengar had a gorgeous voice, and at its best her singing competes with anything on record. This is especially true of the purely lyrical excerpts on the album, such as "Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante" from Carmen and "Glück, das mir verbleib" from Korngold's Die tode Stadt, both of which would be tough to beat for sheer beauty of singing.
The German baritone Hermann Prey was born in Berlin in 1929. In a career that spanned some 48 years, he became one of the most popular singers of his time and formed a great bond with his audiences through his unaffected and natural style of singing and his personal charm and acting ability. His repertoire was extremely wide and encompassed all the classic German Lieder, as well as a whole range of operatic roles from the lively Figaro of both Mozart and Rossini to more serious baritone parts in Verdi and Wagner, although it is in the lighter roles that he is most affectionately remembered. He enjoyed great success in the world's major opera houses including Vienna, Bayreuth, Salzburg, Munich, Milan and New York, and also appeared frequently on German TV and in opera films. He died in 1998.
Although he is fondly remembered for his many exemplary film scores composed during the Second World War, Korngold's more "serious" concerto works – particularly those written after the war – are becoming increasingly well-respected and widely performed. Chief among those works gaining tremendous popularity is his violin concerto. Hints of the sweep and grandeur of the film genre can still be heard in the concerto, but never to the point where Korngold's music sounds trite or unpolished. Rather, Korngold casts the violin in a decidedly Romantic style while still managing to include snippets of previous film scores, making for an easily accessible listening experience. Contrasting sharply with Korngold's increasing popularity is Lithuanian composer Balys Dvarionas.
Limited fourteen CD set. The Complete Collection of Operatic Recital Albums brings together for the first time all the recital and duet albums which Leontyne Price recorded between 1960 and 1982. Starting with her operatic d‚but with arias, it features not only her legendary Scenes from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, but also the famous complete Prima Donna Collection consisting of five volumes released between 1966 and 1980.