Sursum Corda/Erich Wolfgang Korngold

October 4, 2009

Sursum Corda remastered

How rewarding it must have been when Korngold went to the podium, received his Oscar for best score for The Adventures Of Robin Hood, part of which consisted of material from “Sursum Corda,” which was booed when it was first introduced in 1920. Likely because of the booing Korngold took the time to write some program notes for the premiere of the work in the U.S. in Chicago in 1922. At the time it wasn’t understood because it was too modern. Today that idea is laughable and while the work isn’t played often it is well accepted as part of the growing interest in the music of Korngold. Erich today is equally accepted as a classical and golden age film composer with his themes readily exchanged between the two genres.

“Sursum Corda” (Lift Up Your Hearts) is patterned after tone poems of Richard Strauss and is also dedicated to him, Korngold’s childhood mentor. It tells a story of hope and optimism (major keys) with some conflict but you somehow know that good is going to win out in the end. It has two wonderful melodies one of which was the leitmotif for Robin Hood in the film. Being a former horn player I can fully appreciate the great difficulty in performing this piece. Perhaps the difficulty of the work contributed to the less than enthusiastic response from the audience. I could certainly see many hours of practice necessary to get the passages correct. The BBC Philharmonic is in top-notch form and performs this work nicely under the baton of Matthias Bamert.

The other work included on this CD is “Sinfonietta,” Op. 5 an amazing work from a 14 year old who impressed Richard Strauss, Jean Sibelius, and others with his amazing talent. Had it not been for Nazism and a 50-year absence of being performed who knows how popular this work could have been? The entire work is based on the theme Motif of the Cheerful Heart written in B major (Erich loved major keys) it is bright and cheerful. His sound and style were already being formed with this work. One who is familiar with his Hollywood works can already hear the style from so many of the great Warner Bros. Films he worked on. One cannot help but enjoy this symphonic work.

Available at a budget price from Chandos #10432X this recording has been remastered from the original 1994 Chandos #9317. Both recordings are the same the difference being a 24bit remastering. Recommended

Performed by the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Matthias Bamert

Produced by Ralph Couzens

Engineered by Don Hartridge

Track Listing:

1.…Sursum Corda (19:31)

Sinfonietta, Op. 5

2.…FlieBend (10:32)

3.…Scherzo (8:56)

4.…Molto andante (8:09)

5.…Finale (15:14)

Total Time=62:42


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