My Favourite Scores – 1940


  • The Sea Hawk
  • Erich Wolfgang Korngold
  • Naxos Film Music Classics / 2007 / 114:22

The score for this classic Errol Flynn swashbuckler The Sea Hawk is probably my favourite score from Korngold. It certainly contains my favourite theme of the genre. This “Main Title” theme sets out right from the start that there’s going to be lots of action and adventure but there’s also going to be some sweeping romance too!

Korngold’s scores can sometimes be a bit over the top for me and this one does have its excesses in terms of relentless action scoring. But to my ears at least, The Sea Hawk has the balance right delivering the right level of action and romance as well as the quieter “underscore” passages. The whole feel of the music is of a film score rather than being a classical piece lifted from the concert hall and placed in a film. There’s certainly enough variety to keep me listening to the whole 2+ hours of music (though I rarely get the chance to do that now). And the long playing time means that the songs (which are not a highlight for me) can easily be lost in the orchestral score!

Looking through the various versions I have of this score (with each version having various amounts of music), I count five different versions ranging from a 10-minute suite of original tracks that is featured on a Rhino Records boxed set of Korngold’s scores when at Warner Bros., a suite of tracks re-recorded by Charles Gerhardt for RCA and another suite of cues released in 2002 and recorded by André Previn. But it is the complete score recording from William Stromberg and the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Chorus that makes this score shine. Played in equal measures with bravado and tenderness, it’s a great recording.

It’s a title that’s well worth hunting down whichever version you find.

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