Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Editor's Recommendation (Recording released in 1987) Sept/Oct 1998


Eric Wolfgang KORNGOLD The Sea Hawk Utah SO conducted by Varujan KojianVARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-47304 [44:28]

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This is the recording of The Sea Hawk, transcending even the Charles Gerhardt 1970s recording to which Rob Barnett refers in his review of the new Delos recording. This remains one of the classic Varèse Sarabande recordings made in 1987 with the composer's son George Korngold as producer. (The CD booklet notes take the form of an interview between Rudy Behlmer and George Korngold revealing many fascinating facts about Korngold's work in the Warner Bros music department with his colleagues including arranger Hugo Friedhofer and Ray Heindorf who once deputised for an indisposed percussionist and had to run around the sound stage from one instrument to another almost losing his trousers in the process!) This recording is distinguished by being awarded the ARCAM logo in the Gramophone Film Music CD Guide for the high quality of its sound. This CD devoted entirely to this one Korngold score and comprises nearly 45 minutes of music including much material not used by Gerhardt including Donna Maria's Song.

(106 minutes of music were originally scored [in seven weeks] for the 126 minute film.)

The Sea Hawk has been often been praised as one of the very best of the Hollywood swashbucklers and it inspired Korngold to write one of his best scores composed using a highly developed leitmotiv style. As was his custom, Korngold did most of this development work and interweaving of themes as he sat at a piano in the Warner bros projection room where separate reels of film were run over and over again while he created to the images and dialogue on the screen. The resultant score has all the bold romance, wit, excitement and majesty that one could wish for; there is plenty of variety, and away from the screenplay it makes a most satisfying listening experience. It has often been said that Steiner and Korngold - particularly Korngold - set a style that became the standard throughout Hollywood's Golden Age. The bold, arresting fanfares in the "Elizabeth's Throne Room" cue, for instance, find echoes in John Williams's scores such as his Star Wars music and the same applies for the scores of many composers working in the medium today (in fact Williams has openly acknowledged his indebtedness to Korngold). Listen to Korngold's startling thrillingly realistic evocation of the duel, with all its heart-stopping parries and thrusts, between the Errol Flynn character, Captain Thorpe (loosely based on Sir Francis Drake) and the villainous Wolfingham (Henry Daniell in the usual Basil Rathbone role); then there is the exotic Latin-American music for the Panama sequences and the stirring chorus "Strike for the Shores of Dover." There is so much to admire in this recording which should be an obligatory purchase for any serious film music enthusiast.

Ian Lace

see also Errol Flynn net  John DeBartolo

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