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Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957)
The Film Music of Erich Korngold - Volume 2
The Sea Hawk - Suite from the film score (ed. Rumon Gamba)  [76:57]
Manchester Chamber Choir (male voices)
BBC Philharmonic/Rumon Gamba 
rec. Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, 4-5 January 2007. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN10438 [76:57]

Studio 7 BBC Manchester, just down the road from the Oxford Road railway station, was an acoustic success from the start. I recall those early broadcasts in the 1980s and they were every bit as sumptuous and vivid as this.
The Sea Hawk was Korngold's last swashbuckler. Its orchestration was done with a team comprising by Hugo Friedhofer, Milan Roder, Simon Bucharoff and Ray Heindorf working under Korngold's close instructions. 
This marks a bit of a departure for Rumon Gamba who has become something of a film music specialist. In the interests of musical continuity he has moved away from tens of often minutely short segments to sequencing and organising the  music in a way designed to give greater musical logic and continuity. Gamba can now offer new perspectives on the music. While some purists may be pursing their lips others will welcome the musical intelligence that makes the music intrinsically more of a pleasure to listen to.
Although Gamba has created something of a ‘Sea Hawk symphony’ in six movements each segment of each movement is separately tracked and the titles preserved.
This is the very welcome sequel to the first Gamba Chandos Korngold collection which presented the score to The Sea Wolf (CHAN10336 - see review) - not a pirate swashbuckler at all - more a cross between ‘Captains Courageous’ and ‘Moby Dick’. It also had music from The Adventures of Robin Hood.  
Mr Carroll in his note points out that the film runs for 127 minutes of which 106 minutes are scored. 75+ of those minutes are here. We are assured however that this covers most of the major themes and sequences.
The turmoil of Battle and Duel in Part I gives way to a victory theme underpinning the plunging music of the title sequence. That torrential opening is grand indeed. With a dozen main themes at play throughout the six movements (or parts) it is clear that, rather like the young Sibelius, Korngold struggled to keep his tumultuous creativity under control. In Love scene in the boat at tr. 10 there is one theme where the horn-call for The Vikings rings out clearly - had Nascimbene heard it here? The music is varied including plenty of regal ragamuffinery but juxtaposing it with English pastoral, archetypal lush romance and moonlit idyll – for the last listen to the Rose Garden with its filigree of solo violin, celesta and harp. Time after time one is struck by Korngold's inventiveness: Jungle Orchid (tr. 14) is heavy with a delicious tension, jungle atmosphere and tropic luxuriance. This is also encountered in In the Jungle. Even so it is a deep and reviving draught of renewal and ozone when we get to the yearning plunge of The Ocean (tr. 20). Knife Fight sounds a little like Walton's con malizia in the First Symphony. The swell and ebb of the great sea theme in tr. 30 smells of the green and blue ocean and radiates romance - a great achievement.
Styling decisions by Chandos are as usual unerring. The old doubloon gold and crimson of the cover is spot-on. There are stills, photos of studio orchestral sessions from the 1930s and original cinema poster repros. Brendon Carroll's classy essay is printed black on white on some pages and white on black on others. It is completely readable - a shame that it is necessary to praise this sort of touch but it's not be taken for granted in today's design-obsessed – text-averse image market. The essay is also in French and German translation.
Rob Barnett

Chandos Movie Music page

Detailed Tracklisting
Part I  [22:04]
1  Main Title 1:59
2  Spain 3:21
3  Slaves 1:25
4  Big Drum 1:15
5  The Albatross 1:54
6  Battle 6:12
7  Duel 0:36
8  Slaves' Release 5:21
Part II  [15:11]
9  Night Banquet 2:28
10  Love Scene on the Boat 5:39
11  Throne Room 2:13
12  Exit 2:01
13  Elizabeth and Thorpe 2:48
Part III 
14  Rose Garden 4:12
Part IV  [10:52]
15  Jungle Orchid/Thorpe's Men Hiding 0:44
16  Gold Caravan 1:36
17  Attack 0:18
18  Fight 2:16
19  In the Jungle 1:27
20  Ocean/The Hanging Man 4:28
Part V  [15:11]
21  The Galley 2:12
22  Spanish Boat 2:06
23  Rebellion/Along the Coast of Cadiz 2:22
24  The Slaves Liberate Themselves/The Murder 5:11
25  The Fight with the Guard 1:01
26  Knife Fight 0:52
27  Happy Sailing 1:26
Part VI  [9:02]
28  Thorpe Enters into Castle 3:44
29  Duel/Thorpe Fights/Elizabeth Intervenes 1:49
30  Finale/End Title 3:28       


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