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 magic.
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. Provosts Intermezzo (one of those tunes
we all know but cannot put a name to) was the films title track and
it is included in this collection.
Seidel had studied with Max Fiedelmann before joining Leopold Auers
violin class at the St Petersburg Conservatory. Jascha Heifetz, already in
Auers 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.
Bakaleinikoffs 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,
MGMs 1938 biopic of Johann Strauss Jnr. Here Seidel accompanies the
glamorous coloratura soprano, Miliza Korjus.
These recordings vividly capture Seidels 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 Francks 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
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,
This is an album to treasure.