Film buffs at Friday’s free BBC concert at Maida vale may detect familiar strains in Korngold’s headily dreamy Violin Concerto.
Themes from the ex-child prodigy’s film music, notably the Erroll Flynn costume comedy ‘The Prince and the Pauper’, are noticeable. ‘It sounds a bit duff put like that,’ says the soloist Stephen Bryant, ‘but it’s cleverly fitted together.’
At ten the Moravian-born Korngold was called a genius by Mahler, at 13 acclaimed for a ballet. Today he’s remembered mainly for film scores (‘Robin Hood’, ‘Captain Blood’), and for the lush, sweet-sherry Violin Concerto.
Bryant was surprised to find he’d been given the British Première of it as a student. ‘I’d admired the Heifitz recording and a friend got me the music in America.
Then he got irritated and bet me £10 I wouldn’t be able to learn it over Christmas for some concert trials at college.’ Bryant won the bet, inadvertently giving the first British performance of a swooningly Romantic work that leaves one wondering what little Erich Wolfgang might have achieved if he’d resisted the lure of tinseltown.