"....recommended with enthusiasm." ****½
Peter Joelson - Audiophile Audition - August 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."
Dan Morgan - MusicWeb-International.com - July 2012
"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." ***
The Penguin Guide - January 2009
Artistic Quality 10 Sound Quality 10
"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."
David Hurwitz - ClassicsToday.com - June 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."
Arthur Lintgen - Fanfare - November 2008
"...Korngold’s roistering score for the 1940 Errol Flynn swashbuckler The Sea Hawk remains one of his supreme achievements... no self-respecting aficionado of the genre will want to be without this irresistible Naxos double-pack."
Andrew Achenbach - Gramophone magazine - September 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." ****
Jessica Duchen - Classic FM - August 2007
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