Free Lake Scene Screen Saver

Home | Reviews by Title | Reviews by Composer | Review Contributors
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

  • Music composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
  • Music conducted by Carl Davis
  • Performed by The Munich Symphony Orchestra 
  • Produced by Paul Wing
  • Executive Producers: Bruce Kimmel and Alain Silver
  • Associate Producers: Nick Redman and Tony Thomas
  • Label: Bay Cities (BCD 3026)
  • Availability: Out of Print
  • Released: 1992

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (Erich Wolfgang Korngold)

 Another classic score by the great Erich Wolfgang Korngold. This, sometimes overlooked work is brimming with classic marches, love themes, and swashbuckling music. This is a re-recording from 1991, by Carl Davis with the Munich Symphony. Listening to this album, you would think that Charles Gerhardt or even Korngold himself was at the podium, as the conducting is very spot on, capturing every nuance and tempo that is so important in Korngold.

 The Munich brass is sharp and thunderous throughout, and the strings are equally rooted in Europe and with a hint of the "Newman Hollywood" sound. This score was initially issued by Bay Cites, and is now sadly out of print. Thankfully the score was reissued by Varèse Sarabande, with the same content and different packaging. The sound is flawless, and although the album does not have the smallish sound of the OST, fans of Gerhardt's RCA Classic Film Scores will find a certain kinship to this recording. The entire score is here, save for one cue, the song "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love". The melody is heard on the spinet before the "Mirror Smashing" scene, which makes sense to Korngold's later allusions to it. As per Korngold's style, the large orchestra is augmented by three saxophones, double harps, piano, spinet, organ and a harmonium.

 The music itself is consistently thematic. Each suite, made up of five to seven cues, is a mini-score unto itself it seems. It is also interesting to note that either Essex's march or Elizabeth's love theme are never far away. The score is endlessly fascinating for it's development of motif and themes, and would make a great study for those inclined.

 The first suite introduces the main themes in a brisk 8 minute suite. The score has been arranged into six suites, which gives the album a great coherency and eliminates the fragmentary nature of shorter cues. The long second suite "The Queen" is full of sullen dramatics and the moody love theme for Elizabeth is presented throughout. Some terrific "Korngold-esque" violin playing by William Bouton is another highlight here. The third suite starts with a rousing horn fanfare for the hunting sequence, before segueing into more playful scoring reminiscent of KING'S ROW. The suite ends with the long love scene, which is a staple of all of Korngold's scores. The fourth contains some of the action scoring, yet this is not the focus of this score. After the love scene of the third suite, the love theme is now fully developed and used more frequently. 

 It is interesting to note how some of the dramatic writing here almost looks forward to the "psychological" scoring by Rozsa, Waxman, and even Alfred Newman, which was just around the corner when this film was released in 1939. The music is very much in the "Romantic European" tradition. Suite five continues with more fine dramatic writing and opens with a nice fugal piece for cello and brass. Interesting to note the saxophone runs within the first minute, which have an almost Phillip Glass-like sound! The saxophones are prominently featured in this suite and lend a wonderful feel to the score. The final suite ends the score in grand dramatic fashion. Much of the scoring here is full of potent music for the tragic finale, with the love music making one last heartfelt appearance. A halting "death march" variation of the Essex March brings the score to a close. This is one film score which surely stands on it's own as an operatic tale unto itself. Surely to appeal to fans of great film scores, and Romantic symphonic music in general this is one not to be missed.

Best Cue: The finale "Executioner" is guaranteed to give you the chills with it's dramatic drum rolls. One of the most dramatic finale's in all of Korngold.

Alternate Recordings: Charles Gerhardt recorded some of the music here for his RCA series. Davis and Gerhardt's readings of Korngold seem to be along the same lines. Also some of the OST has been issued on the 2CD set Korngold: The Warner Bros. Years, although the sound is reportedly, sadly, archival. For the truly adventurous there is a 57 minute boot of the score
on "Soundstage Records". Yet again, archival sound. This recording has also been newly released, thanks to Varèse Sarabande.

Music: ****1/2
Recording: ****1/2 
Presentation: ****
Overall: ****1/2

Review written by Sean Adams

  • Track Listing / Total Time: (65:45) 
  • (Elizabeth and Essex)
  • 1. Main Title / Narrative / March / Shadow and Parade / The Throne Room / After
  • Elizabeth slaps Essex / Elizabeth and Essex (8:14)
  • (The Queen)
  • 2. The Courier / The Chess Game / Mirror Scene / The Queen / Messenger / Poor Child (13:11)
  • (Reconciliation)
  • 3. The Hunting / Raleigh and Essex / Silver Armor / Lady Penelope / Darling / Card Game / Love Scene (11:55)
  • (Ireland)
  • 4. Council Dismissed / Love and the Ring / Ireland / Shadow of Penelope / Elizabeth Weeps / The Battle / The Truce (9:37)
  • (Essex Returns)
  • 5. The Palace / Queen Elizabeth / Essex Returns / Love Scene / Arrest (10:13)
  • (The Tower of London)
  • 6. The Tower / Cecil / Essex / Love Scene / Executioner / End Cast (12:25)

Film Score Central is designed and maintained by Sean Robert Abbey (c) 1999-2001.

Opinions stated here are my own and do not reflect those of the composers, the host of this
  server, or any other parties. All photos, music and album artwork used on Film Score Central, are for non-profit, promotional purposes and informational use. No copyright infringement is intended. If you think your copyright is being infringed upon, just email me and I'll take that material down.