Rendez-vous With Korngold / Von Otter

Album cover art
Label: DG
Catalog: 4596312
Format: CD

The slithering idiom of early-20th-century Vienna dominates but never consumes Korngold's fluent lyricism, from the ingenuous Suite for Piano Left Hand and Strings to his gorgeous lieder. Anne Sofie von Otter cuddles her ravishing voice around the sublime "Songs of Parting," while longtime accompanist Bengt Forsberg shadows her every nuance. Her supple and pointed diction in the Shakespeare songs is an object lesson in how to sing perfect English, and this from a non-native singer. In the aforementioned Suite, Forsberg and friends don't match the tight-knit ensemble, glitchless intonation, and virtuosic profile that distinguishes Leon Fleisher's powerful version on Sony. They pick and jab at the fragmented yearnings of the Piano Quintet op. 15 yet never get Korngold's lopsided mountain to move. But you'll always return to the songs, for which texts and translations are included. --Jed Distler

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