Korngold, himself, at the piano playing his own Much Ado About Nothing
Suite, in collaboration with the renowned viloinist Toscha Seidel, is the
highlight of this wonderful album. This twelve-minute, or so, Much
Suite consists of four movements. There are the lovely romantic
'Bridal Morning', and 'Intermezzo (Garden Scene)' movements with their beguiling
melodies. Dogberry and Verges (March of the Watch) anticipates the jolly
bombast of the Sherwood Forest music from The Adventures of Robin
Hood; and the suite concludes with the merry Masquerade (Hornpipe). Sheer
Toscha Seidel was born in Odessa in 1899. He settled in California in the
1930s and made his career in Hollywood. He led the MGM studio orchestra for
many years and featured in the soundtrack for the Ingrid Bergman and Leslie
Howard film, Intermezzo. Provost's Intermezzo (one of those tunes
we all know but cannot put a name to) was the film's title track and it is
included in this collection.
Seidel had studied with Max Fiedelmann before joining Leopold Auer's violin
class at the St Petersburg Conservatory. Jascha Heifetz, already in Auer's
class, had been dubbed the "Angel of the violin" but Toscha Seidel was soon
to be called "Devil of the Violin" due to his intensely vibrant sound and
impassioned style - ideal for the world of film music.
Film music connections are prevalent throughout this collection. Bakaleinikoff's
Brahmsiana concoction was performed in the RKO film Melody for Three.
But the other highlight on this disc has to be the sparkling arrangements
by Dimitri Tiomkin (with words by Oscar Hammerstein II) of three Strauss
Waltzes featured in The Great Waltz, MGM's 1938 biopic of Johann
Strauss Jnr. Here Seidel accompanies the glamorous coloratura soprano, Miliza
These recordings vividly capture Seidel's glorious tone and reveal a mastery
of the instrument and sensitive musicality. There are his amazing trills
in the Mozart Minuet in D, for instance, and his ravishing reading (with
pianist Harry Kaufmann) of Cesar Franck's Violin Sonata in A. This is a complete
performance and it is the most substantial work in this generously filled
compilation. It was recorded in the early 1950s for Impressario Records).
Seidel may be little remembered today but in the period before the Second
World War he was regarded as one of the most gifted violinists of his day.
George Gershwin immortalised him as one of the four brilliant 'oriental'
fiddlers in the Gershwin song "Mischa, Jascha, Toscha, Sascha. " This is
an album to treasure