Korngold: Symphony in F Sharp / Straussiana / Theme & Variations

Korngold: Symphony in F Sharp / Straussiana / Theme & Variations cover
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Korngold: Symphony in F Sharp / Straussiana / Theme & Variations
Sinfonia of London, John Wilson (conductor)

[ Chandos SACD / Hybrid SACD ]

Release Date: Friday 30 August 2019

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Best known as a composer of film music, Korngold was born in Brünn, Austria-Hungary (present-dayBrno, Czech Republic) and - as both a pianist and composer - was a child prodigy. Mahler and Strauss were impressed by the young musician, and recommended he study with Zemlinsky rather than 'waste his time' attending music conservatory.

Korngold emigrated with his family to the USA in 1934, where he went on to revolutionise the Hollywood soundtrack, composing scores for films such as The Sea Hawk, Captain Blood, and The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Composed between 1947 and 1952, and dedicated to the memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, his (only) symphony is a heartfelt response to the conflict of WWII. The premiere, in 1954 in Vienna, was under-rehearsed and not a success, and the work remained neglected until Rudolph Kempe came across a set of score and parts in Munich and resurrected it.

The Theme and Variations and Straussiana were both commissioned by the Association of American School Orchestras, but Korngold makes no concessions to youth in his writing. Straussiana also reflects his lifelong love of the music of Johan Strauss II.

Formed originally in 1955, Sinfonia of London was re-established in 2018 by the British Conductor John Wilson to devote itself, at least initially, to recording projects of which this release is the first.

"The playing of the Sinfonia of London is astonishingly brilliant, with Hollywood-dream glories in the string tone" BBC Music Magazine Awards 2020 WINNER - Orchestral

Gramophone Awards 2020 Shortlisted - Orchestral

"[Symphony] I come away feeling this is the first recorded version which gets the pace right. [Theme & Variations] Wilson does a lovely job with it, as he does with the brief, entirely Viennese homage of Straussiana. This is a wonderful addition to the catalog and a genuine corrective to the gloom-ridden, priestly way with which conductors have approached the symphony. Bruckner might be unhappy. But I'm sure Errol Flynn would approve!" Fanfare


Symphony, Op.40 (1947-52)
in F sharp • in Fis • en fa dièse
for Orchestra
Dedicated to the memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Theme and Variations, Op.42 (1953)

Straussiana (1953)