Ian Lace has already
reviewed this extremely welcome disc
with his accustomed thoroughness, perception
and vitality and I refer readers to
My own comments serve as a dispensable
Two of Korngold’s film
scores are represented here and neither
are entirely new to disc. The
second Korngold volume in Charles Gerhardt’s
and George Korngold’s RCA Classic Film
Score LPs included an atmospheric suite
from The Sea Wolf while The
Adventures of Robin Hood has been
recorded complete and in extract form
(Varese-Sarabande, Marco Polo). That
said, the music on this disc is new
to the commercially recorded medium.
The Sea Wolf score has never
been recorded complete while this version
of the Robin Hood suite is a
novelty with its specially reduced orchestration
designed for the practicalities of concert
As a novelist Jack
London is terribly underrated. Of course
White Fang and The Call of
the Wild guarantee him immortality
but people sniffily dismiss his major
novels such as John Barleycorn,
the fantasy Star Wanderer, his
campaigning reportage of the slums of
London’s east end and of course the
psychological novel The Sea Wolf.
Korngold’s score for
The Sea Wolf reflects the tortured
psychological dimension of the story
in a way that we may more readily associate
with Miklos Rozsa. However the Main
Title music heaves and yaws, lunges
and plunges with the best swashbucklers.
Even there the swell carries a steely
menace. The message seems to be: can
anyone keep their emotional and psychological
footing in this weather? It’s clearly
a metaphor for Larsen’s state of mind.
Other impressions crowd
in. The snarl of the brass resolves
into sounds beloved of Malcolm Arnold
in evoking haunted landscapes (in his
Cornish Dances and other works of the
1960s). The mood returns in Love
Scene - Mutiny - Headache/Blindness
and Man Overboard (trs. 8
and 9). Yuri Torchinsky’s succulent
violin solo can be heard in Larsen's
Room - The Patient (tr. 5) but even
then there’s a cold shiver. In this
mood Korngold harks back to his music
for the trudge through the marshes in
his own score for Elizabeth and Essex.
There’s even an unknowing echo of the
sourly disillusioned yet elegiac trumpet
solo from Franz Schmidt’s Fourth Symphony.
In track 8 a real yearning pulses through
the theme and its treatment. This recalls
Herrmann’s much later score for Marnie;
again a film with a strong psychological
dimension. Escape - The 'Ghost' in
Trouble is memorable for its dank
atmospherics (3:10) as well as remarkable
climactic effects galvanic in their
power and Hollywood ‘blaze’. Other hallmarks
and signatures of the composer are there
too including the use of the vibraphone.
The orchestration is lapidary - a large
orchestra used with great restraint.
Shreds of the Dies Irae are woven
into the crashes at the start of The
Sea Wolf’s trailer music although
I did not notice them in the main sequence.
Lush romance and the
jocularly boisterous are not in evidence
here; The Sea Wolf is just not
that sort of film. If you need your
standard Korngold ‘fix’ then the little
suite from The Adventures of Robin
Hood delivers. Robin and his Merry
Men rollick and swagger offset to some
extent by a verdant love scene which
perhaps reminded Korngold of the score
that brought him to the USA - a film
of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The definitive and
readable notes are from Brendan G Carroll.
While Chandos have spared no expense
with the documentation and the sumptuous
sound there are no stills from the film.
No doubt negotiations with Warners did
not produce a satisfactory outcome.
I still have hopes
that the next disc in Chandos’s film
music series will give us a generous
selection of the film music of Brian
Easdale - but please, not The Red
For now though all
credit to Chandos for this superb disc.
It valuably fills a yawning gap in the
Korngold discography and opens the door
on one of the Hollywood master’s most
subtle and grown-up scores.
see also review
by Ian Lace
The Sea Wolf [55:04]1 Main Title [2:33]2
The Fog [2:58]3 The 'Ghost' - Collision
[6:30]4 'You still feel like refusing?'
- Larsen's headache [2:14]5 Larsen's
Room - The Patient [9:56]
6 'Put some bars on her window' [1:58]
7 Louie's Death [1:48]
8 Love Scene - Mutiny - Headache/Blindness
9 Man Overboard [3:41]
10 Escape - The 'Ghost' in Trouble [6:32]
11 Return to the 'Ghost' - Trapped -
Larsen and Van Weyden [1:43]
12 Gunshot - Final Blindness [1:45]
13 The Ship goes down - End Titles/Cast
14 Trailer for 'The Sea Wolf' [4:40]
The Adventures of Robin Hood [16:22]
15 Old England [2:11]
16 Robin Hood and his Merry Men [3:52]
17 Love Scene [6:18]
18 The Fight, Victory and Epilogue [3:54]