Classic Film Scores: The Sea Hawk Original recording remastered, Soundtrack
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Erich Wolfgang Korngold was not so much a Hollywood film composer as a Viennese classical composer who happened to find himself exiled from his home for a decade during the Nazi era and World War II, and spent his time writing one or two scores a year for Warner Bros., then went back home after the war ended. That was also about the time that the soundtrack album began to come into vogue, so Korngold's work was not preserved on LPs. Conductor Charles Gerhardt and his National Philharmonic Orchestra, as part of their Classic Film Scores series, somewhat make up for that lack with this album (the first of two devoted to the composer), which contains excerpts -- in Hugo Friedhofer's original orchestrations -- from 12 of Korngold's scores (representing more than half his total output). These include highlights from the Academy Award-winning music for Anthony Adverse and The Adventures of Robin Hood and the Academy Award-nominated music for The Sea Hawk. Korngold's music was written for swashbuckling Errol Flynn features and historical dramas, which allowed him to use a lavish orchestral style that sometimes swamped the films themselves. (Anthony Adverse is a good example.) He is the epitome of a composer who imposes his own style on the films he scores, and is not at all subservient to them. The result is some powerful, original music more suggestive of the romantic classical style than anything else. Gerhardt and the orchestra effectively re-create the composer's heyday.
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After many moons, Sony Music has attempted to remedy perceived deficiencies with a new re-mastering, and if this example is anything to go by, it shows. Erich Wolfgang Korngold's film music sparkles anew in all its romantic, dashing glory, with cues from the likes of "Robin Hood", "Kings Row", "Escape Me Never", and of course, "The Sea Hawk". As for the delivery, well, there's probably nothing new to say on the subject. Suffice it to say that Gerhardt and the NPO knew how to light a bonfire under the music, and delivered it with a seemingly effortless panache.
Naturally, all this comes with a downside. Fifty odd minutes could never be enough, and at the end, you're left haplessly panting for more; a situation which sadly, can't now be remedied!
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