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Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957)
Music from the 1938 film score, The Adventures of Robin Hood
Main title-muted fanfare [1:49] Sir Guy and Robin Hood [1:49] The Meeting [1:11] The Banquet [2:14] Robin Hood Outside-Robin Hood’s Entrance-The Fight-The Chase of Robin Hood-The Victims [6:13] Robin Hood meets Little John-Robin Hood fights with Little john-Jolly Friendship [3:56 The Oath and the Black Arrow [1:58] The Fish-Robin Hood’s Fight with Friar Tuck [3:29] A New Companion (Friar Tuck) [:56] Robin Hood Attacks Sir Guy’s Party [5:12] Flirt-Feast-Poor People’s Feast-Gold [5:59] The Poor People [4:19] The Tournament-Robin Hood’s Appearance at the Archery Field-Preparation for the Archery Contest-Robin Hood Starts to Shoot-Finale of the Archery Contest [6:38] Arrest of Robin Hood [:47] Tribunal-The Jail [2:27] The Gallows-The Flight of Robin Hood [4:40] Love Scene [6:25] Arrest of Lady Marian [:45] Much: The Knife Fight [1:10] Richard Meets Robin Hood-Richard the Lion Heart [4:03] The Procession [3:09] Prince John [1:33] The Battle-The Duel-The Victory [5:36] Epilogue [1:33] End Cast [:35]
Moscow Symphony Orchestra
William Stromberg, conductor
Score restorations by John Morgan
Recorded at Mosfilm Studio, Moscow, Russia in February 2003 DDD
MARCO POLO 8.225268 [78:27]

It was a most happy coincidence that the arrival of my review copy of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s splendid Robin Hood score, gloriously reconstructed by John Morgan, should coincide with the film itself being screened here in Dallas at the Magnolia Theatre (our finest Art House). So, after first having a listen to the disc, I decided to run off to the theatre and enjoy the music in its authentic setting. And enjoy it I did.

For the first time, we have a complete recording of Korngold’s brilliant 1938 score. In twenty-five numbers and seventy-eight minutes, the Moscow Philharmonic gives us a most excellent account of music, which although created to heighten the screen drama, works extremely well as an absolute listening experience. There is, of course, much to be admired with the craftsmanship of the great Korngold, who ranks certainly amongst this writer’s very favorite composers. The composer captures the essence of both the legendary Robin Hood stories themselves, while at the same time, creating music that is worthy of the Technicolor screen spectacle.

The film itself is a masterpiece. Of course, it is an idealized fairy tale of good triumphing over evil, and none of the true hardships and entanglements of medieval life are realistically portrayed, but for a sixty-plus year old film, it has barely dated, and then in only the most charming of ways.

This recording is years overdue, and for many film music fans, is sure to be a very welcome addition to the catalog. As program annotator Rudy Behlmer gives account, soundtrack recordings were simply unavailable in the golden age of Hollywood, and since there were neither television reruns nor home video equipment at the time, a fan of film music had only the time in which the picture was running in the local cinema to enjoy the score. Heretofore only about half of the nearly eighty minute score was available on record.

There are many singable tunes here, especially the main theme with its flashy brass fanfare-like march. Also of note are the delightfully swashbuckling action sequences that underscore the big fight scene in Sir Guy’s castle, Robin’s dramatic escape from the gallows, and the final defeat of evil Prince John’s forces.

As with any good film score though, I highly recommend that you view the film between listenings to this disc. I promise that it will greatly enhance your enjoyment of both the film and the music when you can put the two together in your mind.

Marco Polo have assembled one of the very finest and most informative booklets that I have ever seen for a recording. The twenty-seven pages are packed with wonderful information, not only about the history of the film itself, but of Korngold and his life and work. In addition, there is an excellent listening guide to help enhance your experience even more. For any lover of great symphonic music, this is a sure winner. Add to it the first-rate performance and above-and-beyond production values; I can confidently say that no serious collector should pass this one by.

Kevin Sutton

see also double review by Rob Barnett and Ian Lace



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