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Korngold: Symphony in F sharp

Album Summary

>Korngold, Erich Wolfgang : Symphony in F sharp major, Op. 40
>Korngold, Erich Wolfgang : Tanzchen im alten Stil, for orchestra
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Combining a popular masterwork with a rare discovery, this Korngold album couples the monumental Symphony in F sharp with Tänzchen im alten Stil. His only symphony, op. 40 was dedicated to the memory of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Of this symphony Dimitri Mitropoulos wrote, "All my life I have searched for the perfect modern work. In this symphony I have found it." Tänzchen im alten Stil was written in 1919 during Korngold's military service, and was premiered in 2007 by the Helsinki Philharmonic.

"It's still very good by any measure, well played and well recorded. John Storgards typically pays great attention to details of string articulation and to Korngold's always glittering textures." -ClassicsToday

"Storgårds' approach to the symphony is straightforward and assertive, and the Helsinki musicians play with determination and energy, so their 2010 performance is strong and bears repeated listening. The performance of Tänzchen is smooth and gemütlich, though its appeal is limited because it is a minor work, with only charming melodies to recommend it. While the minor coup of recording this obscure item will garner some attention, the tried and true symphony makes the sale." -All Music Guide

American Record Guide
Anyone who does like the more traditional approach will very much enjoy this recording, especially the slow movement, where Storgards builds the music to a stunning climax... Performances and recorded sound are both excellent.

This new CD joins a select handful of fine recordings of this late Romantic symphony, of which Marc Albrecht's vibrant account is still fresh in the mind. As an ensemble, there's no doubt that the Helsinki Philharmonic is on a par with Albrecht's Strasbourg orchestra but John Storgårds makes heavy weather of Korngold's writing, stretching out the long paragraphs on his broad symphonic canvas to the point where the symphony often seems becalmed, the ideas outstaying their welcome. Instead of drawing in the composer's prolix writing, Storgårds is indulgent to the point where each new idea seems over-parted from the last.

Gerd Albrecht (PentaTone) takes Welser-Möst's vehemence, Downes's opulence, and Previn's filmic orientation, and creates what is possibly the most dramatic, most naturally expressive performance on disc, with the disquietingly spooky wind writing of the Scherzo's Trio being but one of a disc-full of pleasures.

The WholeNote
Here is a fine addition to the significant revivals and original works recorded by John Storgsrds with the Helsinki Philharmonic. The precocious Erich Korngold was already writing chamber music, orchestral works, and operas at an age when many composers have barely started. But he was forced to leave Austria during the Nazi scourge and turned to Hollywood, becoming an innovator in the new art of film music. The Symphony in F sharp, completed in 1952 after his return to Vienna, is a wonderful summation of his concert and film music accomplishments.

The Telegraph
The cinematic feel is still there in this symphony's swelling climaxes and "Eastern" purple passages.

Gramophone Magazine
Dance in the Old Style...is a charming antidote to what has gone before...although there are no characteristic grand romantic gestures, the orchestra play this dance with an affection and lightness of touch that makes it fresh and appealing.

International Record Review
Storgårds keeps control over the work's structure, so his reading emphasizes not just emotion but also logic. The Symphony's progress acquires a new inevitability. The Helsinki Philharmonic responds to this compelling music with virtuosity...Storgårds and the Helsinki Philharmonic create a reasonably Viennese atmosphere, albeit one that (thankfully) is not allowed to become too sickly sweet. Strongly recommended!

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Helsinki, Finlandia Hall.


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Works Details

>Korngold, Erich Wolfgang : Symphony in F sharp major, Op. 40
  • Conductor: John Storgårds
  • Ensemble: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Helsinki, Finlandia Hall (09/17/2010-09/18/2010)
  • Running Time: 53 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1947-1952

>Korngold, Erich Wolfgang : Tänzchen im alten Stil, for orchestra
  • Conductor: John Storgårds
  • Ensemble: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Running Time: 7 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1919