OK, the Proms aren’t over yet, but I doubt anything will exceed my personal high (and low) points of this season. I’m sure we all have different favourites, but if you’ve not seen The John Wilson Orchestra and Chorus performing Korngold’s ‘Tomorrow’, please give it a look/listen. There are few pieces that give me shivers and prompt tears of wonder, but this is one of them!
Erich Wolfgang Korngold was born and educated in Austria, where his classical works were marking him out as a worthy successor to Mahler. Indeed, the 12-year old Erich performed for Mahler himself in 1909, and the great composer said he should go for private lessons with a top professor, as his skills were already so great that no conservatoire could teach him anything – a view echoed by Richard Strauss. However, when Nazi Germany was on the rise in the 1930s, Korngold fled to America and swapped his serious composer’s hat for writing music for the movies. And what music! Every time I’ve unknowingly heard a Korngold score, I’ve said ‘Who wrote that? I must hear it again!’
If you have access to BBC iPlayer, you can catch John Wilson’s powerful rendition at 1 hour 54 minutes into his prom. Or type ‘Tomorrow Korngold John Wilson Orchestra ‘ in Google search and click on the BBC iPlayer link that comes up. The mezzo soprano, Kate Lindsey, has an astonishing voice, and the icing on the cake is JW’s use of the thundering Albert Hall organ at the end. (If you can’t get onto iPlayer, this is a suitably emotional version on YouTube).
My low point? The prom which shall remain nameless where the fine instrumentalists downed their fine instruments and rubbed paper bags with sandpaper as part of a new, specially commissioned work…
If you fancy hearing the whole prom, here is an appetite whetter, and the programme for your delectation. Tony particular recommends the two songs with Matt Ford just before Tomorrow: If Ever I Would Leave You and The Days of Wine and Roses:
Korngold The Sea Hawk – Overture
Warren We’re in the Money
Romberg The Desert Song
Steiner The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Tiomkin The Old Man and the Sea
Willson Seventy-Six Trombones
Arlen Blues in the Night
Kaper Auntie Mame – M. T.
Judy Garland tribute: various artists Born in a Trunk (sequence)
Loewe My Fair Lady – Overture
Steiner Now, Voyager – Suite
Doris Day tribute: Fain The Deadwood Stage (from Calamity Jane)
Styne It’s Magic
North A Streetcar Named Desire
Loewe If Ever I Would Leave You (from Camelot)
Mancini The Days of Wine and Roses
Loewe My Fair Lady – I Could Have Danced All Night
Williams Harry Potter Suite – Harry’s Wondrous World