Korngold: Sextet, Op 10; Suite, Op 23

Reviewed on Fri 04 Apr, 2014

In whatever genre and for whatever instrumental combinations, Korngold always wrote big – big ideas, big tunes, big emotions. His early Op 10 Sextet for Strings belies its more modest origins as a String Quartet and challenges its six players to emulate the sound of a full symphony orchestra. Dense and chromatic though it may be, it never lacks a sense of dramatic architecture, and around every corner lurks one big-hearted melodic idea after another. The slightly later Op 23 Suite for piano left-hand, two violins and cello is in places a more sombre, knottier piece, thanks to the unusually low-register writing, 'difficult' key signatures (F sharp major in the 'Lied' movement) and bittersweet dissonance throughout – though it too has big emotions aplenty and an especially big tune in that gorgeous 'Lied'. The Aron Quartet and colleagues are eloquent advocates of these two highly characteristic works.
–Mark Walker