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Korngold : Quatuors à cordes n° 2 et 3. Alma Quartet.
Diapason from April 2022
Review de Jean-Michel Molkhou
Page No. 81
Format : 1 CD
Total Time : 00:49:35

Recording : 13/03/2021
Location : Haarlem
Country : Pays-Bas
Sound : Studio / Stereo

Label : Challenge Classics
Catalog No. : CC72869
EAN : 0608917286922
Price Code : DM019A

Publishing Year : 2021
Release Date : 01/12/2021

Genre : Classical
Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957)
Quatuor à cordes n° 2, op. 26
Quatuor à cordes n° 3, op. 34

Alma Quartet

Si de Korngold on connait plus particulièrement l'opéra « Die Tote Stadt » (1920), les musiques écrites pour Hollywood dès les années 1930 et son concerto pour violon (1945), le reste de son œuvre reste trop méconnue. De ses trois quatuors à cordes l’Alma Quartet nous propose les deux derniers datant respectivement de 1933 et 1945. Dans le premier, le discours est plaisant, alerte, clair et rythmé suivant un style combinant astucieusement un post-romantisme expressif et mélodieux, quelques accents de modernité et un style mélodique populaire. Ainsi, le premier mouvement contient d’évidentes réminiscences des célèbres ponctuations de la Cinquième symphonie de Beethoven, le deuxième prend des aspects de danses joviales, le troisième hésite entre une douce mélancolie contemplative et un ton ombrageux et le quatrième est dédié à la valse viennoise aux harmonies modernes. Douze ans plus tard, le troisième quatuor traduit une période plus intime du compositeur marquée par la dépression. L’ambiance y est plus sombre et torturée avec des accents modernes n’empêchant pas pour autant des côtés populaires, voire finalement allègres, et une écriture mélodique sensible entre mélancolie et rythmiques incisives. Ces quatuors agréables à découvrir témoignent du style élégant et sensible d'un compositeur à la musicalité tant stimulante que touchante. (Laurent Mineau)

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) was a genius. Naturally he was most widely known and rewarded as one of the founding composers of Hollywood film music, but he is not a particularly well-known composer in the classical music world. His three string quartets are surely masterpieces and can be seen as modern tone poems imbued with beautiful melancholy and Viennese charm. A child prodigy, Korngold wrote some of the most heart-wrenching melodies, which are sure to leave any listener longing for more. His String Quartet No. 2, Op. 26 (1933) was written just before Korngold moved to Hollywood and is full of musical imagery of Vienna, with gestures towards the waltzes of Johan Strauss II as well as the intricate lyricism of Richard Strauss. A fierce anti-serialist, Korngold was determined that it was still possible to stretch the boundaries of tonality without adapting to the 12-tone technique. The String Quartet No. 3, Op. 34 (1945) is full of themes that he used in his film scores and was written when Korngold was suffering from deep depression. The quartet is much darker. Why did we choose to tackle Korngold’s music for this unique project of a direct-to-disc recording on vinyl? The music resonates deeply with us, as it represents the epitome of late romanticism and lyrical expression. We all have a profound love for romantic music and after listening to some recordings of his quartets we knew instantly these were the perfect fit for us. It was definitely a challenge to understand the idiom in Korngold’s writing. Our individual personalities as well as the Alma sound is clearly audible. What makes a direct-to-disc recording so special? Without doubt, it is the most honest way of recording. What you hear is what you get, with no editing whatsoever. It is thus a studio recording with all of the nuances and thrill of a live performance. Evidently, the process is extremely strenuous and challenging. You want to make sure that the performance is as perfect as can be, but you also have to take into account the fact that perfection is simply not feasible. But the question is whether or not perfection is truly exciting and honest. Korngold’s music was by now deeply embedded in our DNA and we knew how to tell the story!

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