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Cat. No. CHAN 10336 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10336 - Korngold: The Film Music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold
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Available From: 12 September 2005
The Sea Wolf by Jack London is one of the most filmed stories in movie history. Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s score for the 1941 version – stark and brutally dissonant – shows him at his most dramatic, and comes closest to the style and mood of his extraordinary mystical operas Die tote Stadt and Das Wunder der Heliane.

The plot concerns Van Weyden, a writer, and two fugitives who have been given refuge aboard the mysterious sealer ‘Ghost’, captained by the cruel Wolf Larsen. The crew eventually mutinies against Larsen’s many crimes, but though Van Weyden and the fugitives try to escape Larsen’s clutches, they find themselves drawn inexorably back to him. Korngold began to compose his score when filming was complete, adopting his usual, unique method. Having already composed his main thematic material, based on observations made during shooting, he sat at the piano in the projection room and improvised to the running film until his music fitted it like a hand in a glove. Later, at home, he wrote the sequences from memory, marking each reel in time, elapsed by the second. As with most of Korngold’s film scores, the music is a continuous composition

and flows from cue to cue, more like a symphonic poem. Warners re-released The Sea Wolf in 1947 and trimmed its length by twelve minutes, unfortunately discarding the excised footage; this shortened version has been the only one available. For this recording, however, the missing musical sequences have been restored so that we can hear Korngold’s complete score for the first time since 1941.

Perhaps Korngold’s most famous film score was for the 1938 technicolor classic The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn. It won Korngold his second Oscar for Best Score, and soon after its release he assembled a short concert suite in four movements (with slightly reduced orchestration), one of the first pieces of film music to be played in concert. It is now regarded as one of the most influential scores ever written for the cinema.
Korngold: Film music. CHAN 10336

'For Michael Curtiz's 1941 big-screen adaptation of Jack London's The Sea Wolf Korngold produced one of his most searching scores… anyone coming to this music after the playful, swashbuckling fireworks of, say, The Sea Hawk, Captain Blood or The Adventures of Robin Hood may well be caught unawares by its comparatively uncompromising demeanour. The ominous 'Main Title' immediately sets the tone and demonstrates Korngold's masterly handling of an extremely large orchestra, which originally included the now defunct Novachord (patented by Hammond as the world's first synthesizer). Perhaps the most striking piece of scoring occurs in the 'Love Music' (track 8), where a solo harmonica intones one of Korngold's most sweetly poignant melodies against a backcloth of strings It's a rare moment of tenderness in an otherwise predominantly moody 55-minute sequence. There's a bonus in the shape of the music for the trailer And the collection concludes with an irresistible four-movement concert suite from The Adventures of Robin Hood Needless to say, Rumon Gamba and the BBC Philharmonic are completely at home in this colourful repertoire (the superb brass section has a field day) and the sound is as spectacularly rich and detailed as one could possible wish. Recommended with enthusiasm.' Andrew Achenbach, original Gramophone review

How this orchestra relish the tuneful, witty scores that graced so many films…as ever, Chandos has done this repertoire proud with a luminous and full-bodied recording.
Gramophone on CHAN 10306 (Stanley Black)

Gamba draws a polished and wholehearted response from all involved.The Chandos recording has striking body and lustre; exemplary presentation, too. Very strongly recommended.
Gramophone on CHAN 10244 (Vaughan Williams)

Rumon Gamba’s spirited, enthusiastic conducting and the spectacular playing of the BBC ensemble are beyond cavil.
American Record Guide on CHAN 10262 (Ron Goodwin)

Chandos have been doing great things in the film score re-recording world over recent years, especially in the case of British composers of the Golden Age, such as Rawthorne and Alwyn. With this release, however, they break new ground, not only by tackling one of the Hollywood giants but in giving us a complete score rather than merely an arranged suite of themes… This Chandos CD is for me the crowning achievement so far of what was already an impressive addition to the Golden Age film music and one can only hope that Gamba and his forces will be able to record more complete scores before too long.
Music from the Movies

The recent focus on Korngold as a ‘serious’ composer has rather deflected critical attention from his film music. This wonderfully produced disc should redress that, though. One of his best-loved scores, ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’, sits alongside the grand sweep of his music for ‘The Sea Wolf’ which, at 55 minutes is almost a giant symphonic poem in itself
The Independent


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