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Pacifica Quartet Explores Chamber Music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold

The Pacifica Quartet has achieved international recognition as one of the finest chamber ensembles performing today. Their next composer-specific endeavor, The Korngold Collection, is a concert and recording project celebrating the ensemble’s 30th anniversary. Presenting the complete string quartets and other chamber works by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, the project takes listeners on a unique musical journey through his development, from his earliest years in Vienna as a burgeoning teenage prodigy to his assured and mature style in Hollywood as a distinguished film composer. In addition to Korngold’s three string quartets, written between 1923 and 1945, the recording will feature his kaleidoscopic String Sextet (1914) and ravishingly beautiful Piano Quintet (1920). Orion Weiss, one of the most sought-after soloists and chamber music collaborators of his generation, will join the Pacifica Quartet to perform the Quintet. An announcement on who will join the quartet to perform the String Sextet is forthcoming.

Korngold spent much of the 1930s splitting time between Hollywood and Vienna. In 1938, he received the news of the impending Austrian Anschluss, compelling him to remain in Hollywood. His family, including his father, barely escaped Austria before the borders were closed. Korngold vowed not to write any music for the concert hall until after Hitler was defeated, hence the much later date of the Third Quartet and the range of styles he imparts. The First (1923) is notable for its strikingly adventurous harmony; the Second
(1933) for its wealth of melodic appeal; the Third (1945) uses material from Korngold’s film music and is as varied and dramatic as the movies he scored.

The Pacifica Quartet has proven itself a preeminent interpreter of string quartet cycles, harnessing the group’s singular focus and incredible stamina to portray each composer’s evolution. They have successfully surveyed the entire string quartet oeuvre of many renowned composers in both concert performance and recording, most notably, The Soviet Experience, featuring Dmitri Shostakovich’s 15 string quartets. This album provides similar treatment to the string quartets of Korngold and will showcase his compositional excellence beyond the world of early film.

Cedille thanks Eva Lichtenberg and Arnie Tobin for their generous sponsorship of this project. The album, being recorded in 2024, is scheduled for release in 2025.


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