Magazine article Gramophone

First Recording of Korngold's 1920 Much Ado Score

Magazine article Gramophone

First Recording of Korngold's 1920 Much Ado Score

Article excerpt

Korngold (CC)

Much Ado About Nothing, Op 11. Sinfonietta, Op 5

Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/John Storgards

Ondine (M) (2) ODE1191-2D (87' * DDD)

Over the years there have been a number of recordings in various guises from Korngold's incidental music to Much Ado About Nothing but this is the first complete recording of all 14 movements Korngold composed for a production at Schonbrunn Castle in Vienna in 1920. They make a most attractive sequence, opening with an Overture in which Korngold adds his own inimitable touch by scoring piano and harmonium in the orchestration. Several titles are named after Shakespearean characters: Dogberry and Verges in a sinister 'March of the Watch', Balthazar's ditty 'Sigh no more ladies', sung in German, with the tenor soloist Mati Turi taking a rather grand view of it, and music for the mock funeral of Hero, suitably anguished in tone. The movements progress seamlessly from one to another with an 'olde England' 'Masquerade', a tuning of fiddles in 'Festive Music' and a charming 'Garden Scene' with alacing of chinoiserie in the orchestration. The Intermezzo introduces a lovely melody sung by the cello, 'The Maiden in the Bridal Chamber' presents a portrait of Hero as an anxious bride, followed by the 'Church Scene', with celebratory bells. An exuberant 'Final Dance', swinging to waltz time, brings the curtain down on this infectious concoction.

Korngold's Sinfonietta, a symphony in all but name, is an astonishing piece for a 14-year-old, assured in structure as it is in its fecundity of tunes and glittering orchestration. The complex scoring and mood-swings hold no qualms for the Helsinki Philharmonic who, under their conductor John Storgards, offer a supremely confident performance that exudes all the charm, warmth and vitality with which this work abounds. …

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