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Cat. No. CHAN 10438 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10438 - The Film Music of Erich Korngold, Volume 2
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Available From: 01 October 2007
Released in July 1940, The Sea Hawk was Korngold’s last swashbuckler, and is arguably the finest film ever made in the genre. Certainly it is one of Errol Flynn’s greatest films, and had a lavish budget for its time of $1.7m. It represents all that was best about Hollywood’s golden age – fine casting, an intelligent and literate script, lavish production values and, above all, one of the best scores ever written for a film, which has profoundly influenced the medium to this day. One of the most difficult assignments of Korngold’s career, it required a score of extraordinary length and complexity. The music was superbly multi-layered and thematically complex, literally sweeping the film along and matching its extraordinary visuals. Composition began just two days after the filming had been completed: in a special projection room equipped with a piano, Korngold had the reels of film run for him repeatedly while he improvised his music on the piano to the running footage. Later, he would then complete a full, annotated piano score. His training in the late romantic symphonic traditions served him well.

This recording has been very much a personal project for Rumon Gamba who comments, ‘as with the rest of the Chandos Film series I very much wanted to keep the music limited to a single disc, instead of being a dogged reconstruction of the complete score, including every single cue – some being just a quick trumpet figure or drum roll. I felt it was more important to represent the symphonic sweep of the score which is one of this film’s greatest strengths’. Gamba has created a comprehensive ‘suite’ of six ‘movements’ that follows the action chronologically and only leaves out some insignificant cues and general repetitions. He continues, ‘I believe that hearing Korngold’s score in this manner will make for a wonderful listening experience representative of the narrative and in keeping with the spirit of this marvellous picture’.

The BBC Philharmonic performs the score with a symphonic precision and energy familiar from the first volume of Korngold’s film music, released in 2005. Reviewing Volume 1, Music from the Movies observed that ‘Chandos has been doing great things in the film score re-recording world over recent years… With this release, however, they break new ground… this Chandos CD is for me the crowning achievement so far of what was already an impressive addition to the Golden Age film music’.

This 77-minute suite (edited by Gamba) from the score for the 1940 Errol Flynn swashbuckler is a classic and contains some splendid music, excitingly played. It is the variety of the invention that is so impressive, listen to the High Banquet music or the Love Scene. There is also a version for male voices of the film’s main theme. A welcome contribution to commemorating the 50th anniversary of Erich Wolfgang’ Korngold’s death.
Sunday Telegraph

With a Korngold revival imminent on the South Bank Chandos shows shrewd timing with this second volume of the Austro-Hungarian composer’s film music, a stylish adjunct to his output of operas, songs, orchestral and chamber works. Drawn to Hollywood in the 1930s, a Jewish refugee from Hitler’s Europe, Erich Korngold continued a concert career while writing scores for the movies of Errol Flynn, Bette David and others. His reputation was posthumously revived in 1972 by an RCA release of The Sea Hawk, a work played so stylishly here by the BBC Philharmonic under Rumon Gamba.
The Observer

The dynamic conductor Rumon Gamba has made his own performing edition of the score for this rip-roaring swashbuckler, one of Korngold’s finest. From the opening fanfares and big tune – both love theme and depiction of a ship in full sail – there’s never a dull moment: exoticism and evil in the jungle, slaves hauling at giant oars, and perfect musical characterisations of Errol Flynn as the pirate and Flora Robson as Elizabeth I.
Classic FM


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