by James Leonard for Rovi All Music Guide
Jan. 1, 2009
These performances of the string quartets and piano quintet of Erich Wolfgang Korngold by the Aron Quartett with pianist Henri Sigfridsson, released on CPO in 2009, are as fine as any other recordings of the works, and better than most. Many listeners are at least subliminally aware of Korngold from his Hollywood film scores, but few are familiar with his earlier Viennese stage and concert works, and fewer still know his chamber music. The four pieces on these two discs are superb examples of Korngold's art and excellent examples of fin de siècle Austrian chamber music. They range from the lyrical to the dramatic, from the tonal to the chromatic, from the intimate to the heroic, and like all Korngold's music, are well-formed and instantly appealing. The Viennese Aron Quartett and the Finnish pianist catch all the nuances of Korngold's music, bringing out his nimble wit, his tender sweetness, his endless energy, and his unabashed romanticism in performances of great verve and enthusiasm. Recorded in clear, natural digital sound, these discs deserve to be heard by anyone who enjoys music of this era.