Erich Wolfgang Korngold was a Moravian American who is perhaps best known as a prolific Hollywood film composer – his swashbuckling score for The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938 won him an Oscar. He had been a child prodigy in Europe with Puccini saying of him “He has so much talent that he could easily give us half and still have enough left for himself.” After hearing a cantata written by the 10 year old, Mahler declared him “a genius”.
Korngold wrote his Violin Concerto in the late 1940’s, and dedicated it to Alma Mahler. It was first performed to huge public acclaim by Jascha Heifetz who revelled in its virtuosic beautiful themes. Critics at the time were less enthusiastic, with one dubbing it “more corn, less gold” but the work overflows with highlights from his movie scores, particularly in the finale where you can hear the themes from The Prince and the Pauper and The Sea Hawk.
The Brighton Phil’s Leader John Bradbury calls the piece “every violinist’s delight” and Nicola Benedetti who has recorded it says: “As a violinist you are asked to sing the piece, so Korngold hit the nail on the head when he said it was written more for a Caruso than a Paganini”
The Brighton Phil will be joined by virtuoso violinist Chloë Hanslip who will perform the work on Sun 5 March at Brighton Dome – see: http://www.brightonphil.org.uk/concerts/sunday-5-march-2017/
In the meantime here is a YouTube video of a performance by Hilary Hahn with the Deutsche Symphonie Orchester, conducted by Kent Nagano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcGEGl5bdbk&feature=share