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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Sea Hawk/Deception

The Sea Hawk/Deception
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Naxos 8.570110-11 (EU)
Disc 1 - 78:00 mins Disc 2 - 66:48 mins

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be able to review another great release from the Morgan/Stromberg team, who have in the past brought us many fine new recordings of classic film scores on the Marco Polo label. Now on the Naxos label, the quality of this release only makes me realise how much I've missed them.
Of course it helps that they have chosen to re-launch with my favourite Korngold score, 1940s The Sea Hawk, that great Errol Flynn swashbuckler.
There have of course been partial recordings released on various labels before, my favourite re-recordings being those by Charles Gerhard and co. on RCA, and there has even been a substantial release of the film's original tracks on a European label a few years back. This however is the first time the complete score, including the original theatrical trailer music, has been presented, in fine digital sound and in pretty faithful performances by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by William Stromberg.
Anyone who is a fan of golden age Hollywood music will of course be familiar with the score, so I won't go into great detail here. Suffice to say, from its energetic opening to its satisfying conclusion, taking in a gorgeous love theme, actually given voice by soprano Irina Romoshevskaya at one point, plenty of rousing action music, including a tour-de-force of a duel between Flynn and Rathbone, and some exotic sounds for the Panama scenes. But my favourite moment has always been when Flynn and his imprisoned crew escape the clutches of their Spanish captors, with choir bursting forth into a rousing song of freedom.
The Sea Hawk takes up all of disc one, plus 36 minutes of disc two, which is completed with the quite brief (for Korngold and the times) score for Deception, which clocks in at just over 30 minutes, including a performance of the Cello Concerto, which is heard in fragments throughout the film, and which draws upon music from previous Korngold scores for Elizabeth & Essex and Between Two Worlds. Cellist in this recording is Alexander Zagorinsky.
John Morgan has done his usual excellent job of reconstructing these scores, and his notes, along with those by Rudy Behlmer and Korngold authority Brendan G. Carroll, make for pretty exhaustive coverage of the two works presented.
This is definitely one for any self-respecting film music fan's collection.


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