Born in Bilbao, Arriaga was a violinist and composer named in his time the Spanish Mozart. At 9, he was already composing his first quartet. Sent to Paris at the age of 17 by his father organist training, he will have the best teachers of violin and harmony. A brilliant student, he composed many works before tuberculosis prevailed at 19. It was in Paris that he composed this Symphonie à Grand Orchester en Ré, an astonishing and very classical work that was only performed for the first time in 1888. The present recording of the original version is a world first that the Concert of Nations led by Jordi Savall offers us brilliantly.
This disc is part of an ongoing series of re-issues of the Lp catalog of the CRI (Composer's Recordings Inc.) label. These important documents of 20th c. compositions have been out of print since the advent of the CD, but have now been transferred to digital files from the original master tapes in order to make them available once again.
The works included on this disc traverse an almost 25 year span of interest in writing for large vocal forces. Some of my largest works have been for choir—such as my St. Luke Magnificat or my Shoah Requiem—but on this disc the works, apart from my Missa Brevis, are for a cappella choir. Writing for a cappella choir is a very inspiring medium coupled, as it is, with text and language and the inherent timbral interest of varied vowel and percussive consonant sounds in the voice. The works, apart from Silence from my Two Looks at Silence, are all in Latin and owe more than a little to my background as a Catholic and Catholocism's traditional sacred liturgical literature. —Douglas Knehans.
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. Here, the almost vocal qualities of van Beek’s tone come into their own. An essential disc for the Korngold addict.