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Korngold / Schmidt: Music for Strings and Piano Left Hand

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 19, 1998
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. I. Präludium und Fuge. Kräftig und bestimmt
  2. II. Walzer. Nicht schnell, anmutig
  3. III. Groteske. Möglich rasch
  4. IV. Lied. Schlicht und innig. Nicht zu langsam
  5. V. Rondo - Finale (Variationen). Schnell, heftig
  6. I. Lebhaft, doch nicht schnell
  7. II. Adagio
  8. III. Sehr ruhig
  9. IV. Sehr lebhaft


Product Details

  • Performer: Leon Fleisher, Joseph Silverstein, Jaime Laredo, Michael Tree, Yo-Yo Ma
  • Composer: Franz Schmidt, Erich Korngold
  • Audio CD (May 19, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • Run Time: 75 minutes
  • ASIN: B000006O66
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,988 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Here's a fine coupling of two rather rare chamber works, tailored by two rather curious late-Romantic composers for the rather iconoclastic and fascinating left-handed pianist, Paul Wittgenstein. (1882-1961).

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) wrote three works for Wittgenstein: the present Suite, Op. 23, the youthful Piano Quintet, Op. 15 and the uncanny Piano Concerto, Op. 17. They are all quite good.

The Suite, Op. 23 is a brilliantly-conceived "amalgam" of five movements, held together by the centrally-located "Groteske," aptly-named. Not one movement flags, or fails to hold our interest. Korngold consistently touches or amuses or bedazzles. He has a naturally tuneful bent and a mischievous quirkiness that are memorable, indeed. His penchant for invention, as well, is truly admirable.

Franz Schmidt (1874-1939), in his Piano Quintet, is equally intriguing and melodious. Most noteworthy is the particularly gorgeous Adagio. Schmidt, on the surface, may appear to be the more "conventional" composer (afterall, he is Korngold's senior by twenty years), but appearances are deceiving; his music is just as forward-looking and memorably-cast as his youthful contemporary.

Kudos to the stellar ensemble involved--- and especially to pianist Fleisher, whose playing is exceptional. The sound picture is warm and intimate; every trill, every low cello note, every piano cascade is captured realistically intact.

These may be arcane compositions for most, but they are most certainly attractive and accessible.

[Running time: 75:10]
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By SwissDave on October 19, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Comparatively rarely heard, beautiful chamber works, an array of great artists, probably definitive interpretations and one of Sony's best-sounding modern recordings. Quite honestly, I'd ordered this for two reasons only: I'm becoming (or already have been?) a Leon Fleisher completist, plus could not believe Sony (not always my favourite classical record company and/or licence owner when it comes to their policy regarding all the hidden treasures in their back catalogue - not least Fleisher's!) would even have bothered recording and marketing this repertoire unless these were real gems - which is precisely what they are!

Greetings from Switzerland, David.
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Format: Audio CD
WW1. Front of war. The famous Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein is severely wounded in his right arm. When he is rescued, the veredict is implaccable as well as necessary. This arm must be removed. So, when the doctors proceed to undertake the mournful decision, are well aware they have cut the notable career of this artist. Therefter Wittgenstein visits Ravel in order to propose him to compose a Concert only for the left arm. And Ravel will materialize that expected project. After him, Prokoviev will do the same with the Piano Concerto No. 4 and Kongold will compose three pages specially for him, the Op. 23 (presented here), the Op. 15 and the Op. 17.

The great legend of the piano, Leon Fleisher recorded an absorbing and unusual recording with these admirable but still forgotten chamber works.

The greatness of Korngold as composer has been eclipsed by his contributions as composer of soundtracks. As you and me are well aware, this is a simple label, a mischievous prejudice that pretends minimize the merits of this talented composer.

Fortunately, Fleisher decided to undertake the risk and challenge critics and audience with this notable program.

Acquire as soon as possible this emblematic and original issue. You will be more than rewarded.
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Format: Audio CD
Now that he has recovered the use of his right hand, it can be said that there was at least one positive side to the illness ("focal dystonia" it is called) that afflicted Leon Fleisher in 1965 (he was 37 then) and cut short the fantastic career that should have been opened to him: to have enabled him to explore rare repertoire for the left-hand alone, and especially all those compositions initiated by the famous Paul Wittgenstein, the commissioner of, among others, Ravel's left-hand PC, Prokofiev's (his 4th), Britten's Diversions. Or I should rather say: there might have been a positive side. Because, at least on record, Fleisher didn't nearly offer as much of those discoveries as he might have. The liner notes mention that Franz Schmidt wrote 5 compositions for Wittgenstein other than this Quintet for Piano Left-Hand and String Quartet: a solo Toccata, two concertante works (both have just been recorded by Carlo Grante, Schmidt: Concertane Variations/Concerto for The Left Hand) and two other Piano Quintets. With all due respect (admiration even), what has Fleisher been doing all these years?

There must be a story to the present recordings as well, and I'd love to know it: both compositions were recorded in 1991 and 1993, but released by Sony only in 1998. Why? Anyway, let's welcome what we do get, rather than lament what we don't and might have.

Korngold's Suite op 23 is a superb composition, one of the best I've heard of this composer whose music I often find too late-romantically over-bloated and sentimentally lyrical.
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