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.
Known particularly for his orchestral output 16 symphonies and 21 concertos to date! the Finnish composer Kalevi Aho was recently described in Gramophone as having a strong claim to the title of greatest living symphonist. But as followers of the ongoing releases of his music on BIS will know, Aho has also composed a large number of works for smaller forces quartets and quintets, duos and solo pieces. On the present disc, the Finnish pianist Sonja Fräki presents his output for solo piano, comfortably fitting on one disc, but nevertheless spanning some 30 years of a long career.