Due to its disastrous Viennese premiere in 1954, Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Symphony in F sharp was quickly dropped from the repertoire. Yet this late masterpiece, along with Korngold's opera Die tote Stadt, found receptive audiences in the 1970s and has become one of his best-known works. The old criticisms against Korngold's traditional tonality, his conservative formal bent, and his professional Hollywood polish no longer matter; nor should his occasionally spicy dissonances, angular melodies, and ambitious orchestration prove an obstacle to appreciation. Korngold's dense and dramatic symphony may be regarded either as a late development of Mahlerian post-Romanticism or as an offshoot of tonal Modernism, as practiced by Shostakovich and Prokofiev. Yet the music's coherence, emotional depth, memorability, and impact matter more than its stylistic lineage; and because this work bears the stamp of a mature master, it is likely to endure despite the contretemps and controversies of music history. Franz Welser-Möst and the Philadelphia Orchestra play Korngold's vivid score with great energy and passion, and this excellent 1995 performance truly deserves its place in EMI's catalog. Barbara Hendricks is simply gorgeous in the four songs from Sechs einfache Lieder and "Mariettas Lied" from Die tote Stadt, and these filler pieces are desirable in their own right.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphony in F sharp major, Op. 40|
|Einfache Lieder, for voice & piano (or orchestra), Op. 9|
|Die tote Stadt (The Dead City), opera, Op. 12|