ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD: String Sextet in D Op. 10; Piano Quintet in E Op. 15 – Camerata Freden – Tacet Pure Audio Blu-ray Real Surround Sound B198, 68:14 (96/24 PCM 5.1, 96/24 PCM stereo) [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
Tact previously released these two performances on a standard CD, and now they have become part of the label’s effort to furnish many of their multichannel recordings on Pure Audio Blu-ray in addition to SACD and/or DVD-Audio. Since we didn’t receive a SACD versions of this one I can’t do a comparison but I have found that usually the Blu-rays are very similar to the SACDs.
Korngold was more concentrated and complex in his abstract works than he was in his classical film scores. His lovely melodies and expressionistic-tho-tonal variety of sounds are in strong evidence in his glorious Sextet in D. He wrote it when he was only 19 and one is reminded of the early string works of the young Mendelssohn. He seems to avoid anything that is too definite, seeking an impressionistic sort of mood, almost like dreaming. The work’s Adagio movement gets quite dissonant with out-of-kilter melodies, bit the Intermezzo is a lighter, floating movement similar to Mahler’s landlers. Here is another review of the Sextet.
The Piano Quartet is a fine piece of chamber music and quite different from the Sextet. The first movement has a self-confident tone. The second uses variations on a song by Korngold: “Moon, thus you rise again.” It is a fantastic piece of night music. The main themes of the work appear again and again thruout the work, as in the model offered by Franz Liszt. The Camerata Freden plays with great accuracy and emotion.
If you haven’t experienced a Real Surround Sound release from Tacet before, you might be thrown by the special spatiality of the sounds on this disc. If your 5.1 playback system is properly set up, you should hear the two violas of the sextet at the front two channels, the two violins off the left and right sides, and the two cellos at the left and right surround speakers. The center channel just fills in but doesn’t have a specific instrument at it. For the Quintet this is changed to place the piano front and center with the viola and second violin on either side, the first violin at the left surround and the cello at the right surround. I happen to think this is an exciting way to present chamber, and it makes the listener feel like you are in the middle of the performance or rehearsal, as well as making full use of the multichannel format. It helps if your speakers are similar all the way around your system, but that is not required for an enjoyable listening experience.