Moscow Symphony Orchestra - The Sea Hawk / Deception - Audiophile Audition
29 August 2012Audiophile Audition
It's good to see high definition releases from Naxos's back catalog
being offered on various download sites. This generous release includes
the world premier recordings of the substantial score Korngold wrote
for The Sea Hawk and the half hour he wrote for Deception.
The Sea Hawk is one of a series of hugely successful
Hollywood swashbuckling stories, a Michael Curtiz vehicle for Errol
Flynn and co-starring Claude Rains, Flora Robson, Henry Daniell (those
were the days when British actors played both goodies and baddies)
involving pirates, an armada, the Spanish Main, an English queen and a
beautiful Spanish princess. Pure escapism and possibly something of a
morale-booster for British audiences at the time. Painstakingly
restored by John Morgan, the score is pretty well through-composed and
is, I found, as highly enjoyable as a complete ballet score of similar
vintage; it survives magnificently without the pictures.
Deception is altogether darker fare. Appearing after the
War, in 1946, this Irving Rapper directed film starred Bette Davis,
Claude Rains and Paul Henreid in a tale of the appearance of a
previously missing cellist, his former girlfriend and her current lover,
and the production and performance of a cello concerto. Even by
Korngold's standards, this short score oozes quality. The concerto
itself, included separately at the end is a short one, but highly
effective, and it's very well played here by Alexander Zagorinsky.
The Moscow Symphony Orchestra under William T. Stromberg are on
excellent form. They had worked together for several years before this
recording was made in Mosfilm's Studio 5 in 2005, and continue to do so
on their own label, Tribute Film Classics. Recording quality is very
good indeed but, in The Sea Hawk a little more warmth and
open-air in the sound would have allowed more of an al fresco feeling.
On the other hand, the engineers have recreated in high fidelity that
taste of the sound from those Hollywood years, before reverberation
became the acquired taste.
At a reasonable price for a newish and very good recording of
excellent performances, and with the complete and excellent 24-page
booklet included, this is recommended with enthusiasm.
Related LinksMoscow Symphony OrchestraKorngold: The Sea Hawk / Deception