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Dan Morgan
MusicWeb International, July 2012

Film Music Classics is a very enterprising series from Naxos…this volume all the more desirable as it’s the only recording of all the music Korngold wrote for these films. I’ve heard one instalment in this series so far—Shostakovich’s music for Hamlet—and was mightily impressed by both the performance and sound.

The Moscow Symphony…are a good choice for this repertoire as they—and the California-born conductor William Stromberg—are much involved in contemporary cinema…

The Sea Hawk…has it all; action, intrigue, love interest and…a rousing speech from Elizabeth the First about the pursuit of freedom. Propaganda aside, there’s plenty of variety in this nautical score, from the sting of spray and flutter of pennants—splendid cymbals and fanfares—to exotic locations, acts of derring-do and moments of the most tender love music. It’s all superbly played and recorded, with necessary amplitude when required.

Remarkably for a score that plays for just under eighty minutes The Sea Hawk has enough changes of musical tack to keep one listening to the very end.

The writing for Deception, a film noir directed by Irving Rapper, is very different…there’s a symphonic breadth and focus that’s very impressive indeed.

That said, it’s still vintage Korngold—rich and creamy—and it features the cello concerto that he later expanded into a stand-alone piece. It’s all very accomplished, and the downloadable liner-notes are extremely detailed and eminently readable. There’s no competition either, as these are the only complete recordings available…completists and film buffs will pounce on this Naxos release; audiophiles will find much to enjoy here, too. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Penguin Guide, January 2009

John Morgan has restored Korngold’s amazing complete score for the famous Errol Flynn vehicle, The Sea Hawk, continually bursting with musical ideas, and Naxos have coupled it with the score for Deception, including a famous concertante cello part (warmly played here by Alexander Zagorinsky) which was to form the nucleus of the later cello concerto. The Russian performances have appropriate Hollywood-styled hyperbole, even if there is some lack of refinement in the sumptuous recording. But this is a unique set, showing he sheer fertility of the composer’s imagination.

Arthur Lintgen
Fanfare, November 2008

the complete Korngold scores for The Sea Hawk and Deception is…the final release in their highly acclaimed…Naxos film-music series…recording containing excellent performances of two complete Korngold scores with superb modern stereo sound is self-recommending.

To read the complete review, please visit Fanfare online.

David Hurwitz, June 2008

The mere fact that Erich Korngold's complete score for The Sea Hawk exists will probably be enough for most film-score buffs to leap up and grab this release, even were it not as fine as it actually is. Read full review at ClassicsToday

David Hurwitz, June 2008

The mere fact that Erich Korngold's complete score for The Sea Hawk exists will probably be enough for most film-score buffs to leap up and grab this release, even were it not as fine as it actually is. What we have here, for all intents and purposes, is a vast symphonic poem only a couple of minutes shy of two full hours. It's all vintage Korngold: the heraldic fanfares and swaggering tunes for the "good guys", the luscious love music, brooding atmospheric bits, and thrilling action sequences, all decked out in the most sumptuous orchestration imaginable. William Stromberg and his irrepressible sidekick John Morgan have outdone themselves in bringing all of this music to life. The performance is brilliant, the engineering among the best from this source.

As if that weren't enough, we also get the music from Deception, a Betty Davis vehicle that gave birth to Korngold's Cello Concerto (here performed as in the film, in its original, shorter form). While recognizably the work of the same composer, the score is darker and more subdued in keeping with the film's "noir" ambience. What it all adds up to is almost two-and-a-half hours of "golden-age" music from two golden-age movies, magnificently played and recorded, on two very reasonably priced CDs. This isn't just essential for Korngold or film score collectors--this release also is perfect for mp3 players, long car trips, or any activity that needs a nice big chunk of orchestral music to while away an hour or two. If this isn't an irresistible bargain, then I don't know what is.

Arthur Lintgen
Fanfare, January 2008

The amazing Moscow Symphony Orchestra brilliantly performs all of Korngold’s dazzling fanfares, and never stints on the surging romantic passages. © 2008 Fanfare Read complete review

Andrew Achenbach
Gramophone, September 2007

Korngold's roistering score for the 1940 Errol Flynn swashbuckler The Sea Hawk remains one of his supreme achievements. Varujan Kojian's selection with the Utah SO (TER) has provided sterling service over the past two decades, while there can be few more exhilarating sonic blockbusters from the analogue era than Charles Gerhardt's National PO recording from 1973 of the 15-minute suite (RCA, 12/89-nla). Now comes John Morgan's restoration of the score in its entirety as well as the music for the original theatrical trailer, nearly two hours of material and a tour de force of indestructible melodic flair and subtly worked, long-term thinking. William Stromberg secures commendably tidy, engagingly big-hearted results from his Moscow forces, and if, say, the unforgettable choral return of the main title (disc 2, tr 5) doesn't convey the overwhelming surge of exultant emotion you find on Gerhardt's account, the rewards elsewhere are abundant.

The bonus is the complete music for Deception (1946), Komgold's last collaboration with Warner Brothers. The highlight of this compelling 3D-minute sequence is unquestionably the original version of the Cello Concerto (later expanded and published separately). Better still, the beguilingly warm-toned soloist here, Alexander Zagorinsky, matches the passion and panache displayed by Francisco Gabarro on his pioneering version of the revision (RCA, 11/91).

With its vivid, if not always ideally lustrous engineering and detailed notes by Brendan Carroll, no self-respecting aficionado of the genre will want to be without this irresistible Naxos double-pack.

Jessica Duchen
Classic FM, August 2007

A feast for Korngold junkies: the first complete recording of Korngold's entire film scores for the swashbuckler The Sea Hawk (1940) and Deception (1946), a thriller starring Bette Davis for which Korngold wrote the original version of his Cello Concerto. The Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Stromberg lavish love, attention and high energy on these rich scores; the composer rightly regarded them as 'operas without singing'. The plummy Russian-style, dark-'I'ed mezzo-soprano Irina Romishevskaya is rather a hoot in 'Maria's Song' from The Sea Hawk, but Alexander Zagorinsky in the Cello Concerto is incandescent, and the vibrant strings and strident brass enter superbly into the spirit.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2007

Apart from Warner's original recording orchestra, precious few have heard Korngold's complete and extensive score for The Sea Hawk, yet it has taken on an almost mythical legendary state among film buffs. That we now have the first recording is due to the tireless efforts of John Morgan who traced all of the original material in differing formats, some requiring rescoring, a task undertaken by Morgan and the conductor, William Stromberg. The result is a complete world premiere recording of every note Korngold wrote for the film lasting over 105 minutes, including those passages later taken out of the film. Even the trailer that was screened in cinemas before the film was shown is included as an appendage. Musically the score is potent in its dramatic content, though most of the score was orchestrated by others working at Warners, and though these included highly respected composers in their own right, I find many sections falling well below the standard of Korngold's concert hall scores. The tracks are often of symphonic length, Korngold working within a series of motifs for the various characters. The big fight scenes have tremendous energy, and the Moscow orchestra play with an intensity and brilliant colours that place it among the finest things they have placed on disc. The choral sections are included together with Maria's Song sung in an indeterminate language by Irina Romishevskaya. Six years later in 1946 came Deception, the extant material even more dispersed and sparse than The Sea Hawk, and has required considerable reconstruction to achieve the complete score. Again I am impressed with the strength of writing and with its immediately attractive melodic content. The decision was taken to use the cello concerto as it appeared in the film rather than the extended work that later became a concert work. It is superbly played by Alexander Zagorinsky, infallible in terms of intonation and very much in Korngold style. This too is a world premiere recording and it would be difficult to imagine more perfectly structured performances than those directed by a film composer, William Stromberg. I have already commented on the orchestra which is superb in every department, its potent string weight matched by the sharp edged brass. The sound is also a rung higher than we have previously had from this source, high on impact and with much inner detail. All in all the most desirable release in this indispensable film music series.

Michael Beek
Music From The Movies, June 2007

Classical music label Naxos continue their ‘Film Music Classics’ series with two world premiere recordings. Erich Wolfgang Korngold is one of the fathers of film music and his 1940 score for Michael Curtiz’ The Sea Hawk is probably one of his most famous works, alongside The Adventures of Robin Hood. The complete score for the swashbuckling epic has now been recorded by William Stromberg and the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and if that weren’t enough the orchestra has also recorded Korngold’s complete 1946 score for Irving Rapper’s Deception, starring Bette Davis and Claude Rains. Both scores are spread across 40 tracks on 2 discs and it’s an album that is likely to sell very well indeed, as fans will finally get a chance to hear these golden age masterpieces in their entirety.

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