, January 2009
Joseph Lin’s recording of Korngold’s Violin Sonata appears in a collection of arrangements….These pieces, in a more popular vein than the more ambitious Violin Sonata, showcase Korngold’s rich melodic gift and harmonic imagination, and “Dogberry and Verges” give evidence of a mild sense of humor that the Sonata seems to lack. Lin and Loeb sharply characterize each of these movements, with Lin producing an especially glowing tone in the “Garden Scene” and displaying musical and technical authority in the “Masquerade.”…Lin sounds relatively sweet-toned…The duo also takes command in the large-scale Scherzo (at 10:37 in this recording, that movement occupies almost a third of the Sonata’s duration), and though there may be a degree of roughness in Lin’s attack, he brings a sense of excitement to the movement. Lin’s purity of tone on the E string generates thrilling intensity in the slow movement, powering its leaps into the stratosphere. If the Sonata’s dedicatees inspired its seriousness, Korngold certainly rose to the occasion, and so do Lin and Loeb.
The shorter pieces begin with the Serenade from Der Schneemann, a rapt miniature that shows off Lin’s tonal command but also his wide and rather slow vibrato, which, for some listeners, may even threaten to grow annoying. From Korngold’s opera, Die tote Stadt, come the two short pieces, “Tanzlied” and “Marietta’s Lied,” the first a delicately wistful song that’s immediately ingratiating, and the second, an affecting lyrical outpouring that could vie successfully with the most popular works in the genre. The Caprice, subtitled “Wichtelmännchen,” or “Goblins” could similarly almost take the place of several similar pieces, like Bazzini’s Dance of the Goblins or Paganini’s “Witches’ Dance” on recital programs, though it’s more atmospheric than brilliant. Lin sounds a bit more polite in this miniature—and occasionally more ardent, by turns—than does Shaham, who plays it with more suggestive macabre energy…Lin and Loeb make a great deal of this repertoire, and their readings deserve a recommendation to anyone interested in it, in young violinists (the release appears as part of Naxos’s “Laureate” series), or in Korngold—or even to more general listeners. Recommended.