Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Erich Wolfgang Korngold Composers of Our Time|
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Korngold was much more than 18 film scores.
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I respect the original review of this DVD, but believe it to be a little bit short-sighted. Korngold was much much more than just a composer of 18 film scores, he was a composer of opera, symphony and soloists. If you are looking for a story simply about Korngold's years in Hollywood, then this DVD is not it. It is however a wonderful exploration into the music of this forgotten composer, and very thoughtfully done I believe.I feel it to be somewhat of a slight to the entire life work of this man, who could compose music of this sophistication and yet retain such a child-like heart. And 'bloated' would not be the adjective that I would associate with any his music.If Anne Sophie Von Otter does not tear your heart out with her singing of Marietta's Song, then you have no hope.Watch, listen and understand."
PORTRAIT: Five Stars! CONCERT: Barely Three.
William F. Flanigan Jr. | North Potomac, MD USA | 05/19/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"1. THEME AND VARIATIONS FOR ORCHESTRA, Opus 42 (1953) was Erich Wolfgang Korngold's final concert composition. Seven years earlier, he had composed/selected/arranged music for the film DECEPTION (made and released in 1946). This was his final film-symphonic composition. These events are more inter-related than they may first appear. The title of Opus 42 is what Korngold did for a living. He was a master (arguably an unparalleled master) composer of themes and seemingly endless variations for the concert/operatic hall and the motion picture theater. Themes from Korngold's pre-Hollywood catalog were often recycled as variations in his films; key components in concert compositions written while in America (and especially after he left the sound stages of Warner Bros.) often turn out to be variations of themes initially composed for the cinema. Korngold's process of circular composition (musical invention/re-invention on the fly as it were) is apply illustrated in A PORTRAIT AND CONCERT. And although less that 20 percent of this DVD directly deals with Korngold's film scores, from a theme-and-variations perspective, most of the music presented really does.
2. This is only the third release on DVD of Korngold's film music. The PORTRAIT portion (a documentary on Korngold's life) was made in 2001 and initially shown on German television. Of special interest to film-score enthusiasts is the "Emigration to Hollywood" segment (Chapter 8, 11:46). It includes superbly sounding music from extant, "original" sound tracks (OST) (prior to being intentionally destroyed decades ago, Korngold's optical film recordings were transferred to open-reel tapes) including THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD as well as newly-recorded performances of music from ANOTHER DAWN, ANTHONY ADVERSE, DECEPTION, ESCAPE ME NEVER, and THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER. Even the sound (and visual footage) from film clips (going back to A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM) is well above average. But this is not quite musical nirvana, as we shall soon see. The CONCERT portion of the DVD consists of four works (three have opus numbers) recorded in 2001. CELLO CONCERTO IN C MAJOR, Opus 37 (1946) is of special interest, since Korngold initially composed this one-movement work as the concluding center piece for the film DECEPTION (in part consisting, of course, of variations on themes from some of his previous films). The concerto in the film is about six minutes end-to-end, and Korngold doubled its length for the concert hall. It is the latter that we hear (and see) on the DVD conducted by the American conductor Hugh Wolff and performed by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra (FRSO). In the film, Eleanor Aller Slatkin--mother of future conductor Leonard Slatkin--played the cello on the OST as well as in the world premiere of Opus 37 in 1946 (over coast-to-coast radio). On the DVD, the cello soloist is Quirine Viersen, about whom more is to come.
3. The documentary on Korngold's life is a one-of-a-kind, epoch-defining event! Regrettably (and ironically), the same can not be said for the music. PORTRAIT is needlessly bloated with gratuitous (dare I say "boring"?) repetitions of the music presented in the CONCERT portion--if you first watch PORTRAIT, you have pretty much heard (and seen) a large part of the CONCERT. The "Emigration to Hollywood" segment also suffers from a case of the bloats with the exception of the Opus 37 excerpt. But the video editing of this excerpt seriously distracts from the music. Other film-score music is mostly a frustrating collection of musical snippets and fragments (only two have complete cues). Now this could be a teaser/preview of things to come (such as future releases of full, historical OSTs from Leslie Korngold's Korngold Archive and/or new recordings of OSTs from Wolff and the FRSO); or it may be just the result of staying short of copyright infringement. Compensating for disappointments in the film-score domain, "Emigration to Hollywood" contains a plethora of on-camera insights and observations from a stellar group of Korngoldian subject matter experts (just about all who are still alive and kicking are heard from). They include: Korngold's biographer Brendan Carroll; film historian Rudy Behlmer; Korngold's daughter-in-law Helen Korngold; composer and arranger John Morgan; conductor William Stromberg; Warner Bros. VP of Music Daniel Gould; and archivist Bernd Rachold. Plus the first public showing of Korngold in color (from family home movies). A must see!
4. Opus 37 in the CONCERT portion is only the latest in a series of modern recordings (all others have been on CD). Using BMG RCA Victor GD80185, 1973 (conducted by Charles Gerhardt, and performed by Francisco Garbarro [cello] and the National Philharmonic Orchestra) as the analog-mode reference recording, the conducting on this DVD is workman like, somewhat labored, and slow in tempo; the orchestra, though, seems well rehearsed and disciplined; the sound (miking, recording, and mixing) is outstanding (no doubt due in very large part to the digital format selected--see below); and the video (camera coverage and editing direction) is repetitious, but fully professional. The cello soloist, Quirine Viersen, brings new meaning to the term "dramatic instrumentalist." Her playing is certainly competent (and, perhaps, close to outstanding), but her histrionics (seen in much too many quarter and head shots) is way over-the-top. It seriously distracts from her instrumental skills (unless you turn off the video and just listen--highly recommended!).
5. On a closing technical note, squeezing linear (uncompressed) PCM stereo onto a DVD with live-action video is not an easy audio-engineering feat. The German label Arthaus Musik has now done this for an impressive number of releases covering several musical genres. The sound leaves CDs in the dust! But to fully enjoy, you may want to turn off the effects channels. Otherwise Dolby ProLogic kicks in and spoils the ear candy.
William Flanigan, Ph.D."
A Most Worthy And Yet Forgotten Composer
BLee | HK | 02/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
This DVD provides us an in-depth introduction to both the life and the music of this composer. It is true that in this DVD, often his music is only played to show the genius of this composer as to how well he fulfilled the stringent requirements of the themes and moods of the various moives within exact time frames, to be composed within the shortest notice etc.
And it so happened that I finished this one right after watching Andre Previn's "Kindness of Strangers"-- quite a parallel-- as both are composers and soloists, and both wrote music for films. Andre Previn is much more well known to the general public ( because he is also a famous conductor?). But as a composer, after watching this DVD, one is compelled to say he is necessarily dwarfed by Korngold, and so is the production of the DVDs.
Viewers is of course entitled to expect the best of the two worlds in both the portrait and in the concerts, asking for perfection in this imperfect world; but if there is any justifiction for giving Kindness of the Strangers 4 stars, as the DVD stands, mostly likely they will give this one 5 stars if not more, and suffice to say that this DVD is very engaging or even instructive."