Korngold: Works for Orchestra

Korngold: Works for Orchestra

Sinfonia of London

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Editor's Choice

Born in what is now Czechia, the Austrian composer Erich Korngold was declared a genius by Mahler at the tender age of ten and composed his first ballet the following year. Following a short stint as a professor at Vienna's University of Music and Performing Arts, he departed for the USA. Escaping before Austria was in the full grip of Nazism proved a good move both personally and professionally for Korngold, and he spent a great deal of the next 20 years composing Hollywood film scores. In his later years, he returned to composing concert music and the three works presented on this album all date from this period. Korngold's only symphony is curious for having had its first performances broadcast on the radio, with its first concert performance taking place 15 years after the composer's death. 'Theme and Variations' was one of his final works, and is an unapologetically cinematic set of melodies on a theme he described in his performance direction as "like an Irish folk tune". 'Straussiana' was the perhaps inevitable zenith of Korngold's lifelong relationship with the music of his fellow Viennese wunderkind, Johann Strauss II. Having spent much of his early career reconstructing, reviving and championing the Waltz King's work, he marked the end of his career with this unabashed celebration of Vienna's musical heritage. Featuring mazurkas, polkas and - of course - waltzes, 'Straussiana' is irresistibly nostalgic, given Korngold's choice not to return to Europe following the war's end.


  • Symphony in F-Sharp Major, Op. 40: I. Moderato ma energico

    Sinfonia of London


  • Symphony in F-Sharp Major, Op. 40: II. Scherzo. Allegro molto

    Sinfonia of London


  • Symphony in F-Sharp Major, Op. 40: III. Adagio. Lento

    Sinfonia of London


  • Symphony in F-Sharp Major, Op. 40: IV. Finale. Allegro

    Sinfonia of London


  • Theme & Variations, Op. 42

    Sinfonia of London


  • Straussiana (After J. Strauss II)

    Sinfonia of London


  • Total playing time


Album review

“After a decade of success in Hollywood, Erich Korngold returned to concert music during the last decade of his life. The works he wrote did not fit the heady postwar atmosphere, when the avant-garde, strengthened by its distance from the aesthetics of Hitler, ruled the scene. However, more recently the Symphony in F sharp major has had its champions, Andre Previn among them, and it's showing signs of reaching everyday-repertory status. This is all to the good, for the work is enormously enjoyable. Unlike other composers who adopted a kind of diglossia between their concert works and their film scores, Korngold devises an effective fusion where passages that could have come out of Captain Blood are built into larger structures. Sample the first movement. The triumphal finale might ring a bit hollow, like some of wartime Shostakovich, but it's hard to resist. Other attractions here are numerous, beginning with the readings by conductor John Wilson and his new Sinfonia of London. He takes the Symphony at film music climax clips and brings out this aspect of the music. Chandos' sound, evoking the golden age of American symphonic music-making, is superb. The two short pieces at the end, both written for amateur youth orchestras, are utterly delightful; Straussiana refers not to Richard Strauss, but Johann Strauss II and both these works could, and should, be taken up by student and collegiate orchestras everywhere. Exciting and recommended.”

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Record label



    30 August 2019