I had the great good fortune of seeing this performed live with Gil Shaham about a few weeks ago and oh, jeepers, was it ever amazing. I had never heard of Korngold before that night and I forgot how glorious it is to be surprised by new music. This piece absolutely knocked me flat.
Korngold was an American composer and a contemporary of Aaron Copland – Korngold wrote this piece in 1945, three years after “Rodeo” and “Fanfare for the Common Man.” Korngold experiments with both atonality and out-and-out romanticism than does Copland, but there are echoes of Copland’s work especially in the third movement (at 17:17). More than anything, the violin concerto sounds like a movie score (“E.T.,” anyone?), which isn’t a surprise since Korngold did write movie scores. In fact, his score for “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (with the raffish Errol Flynn) won an Academy Award in 1938, the first time the award had been given to a composer and not the director of the studio’s music department.
Beyond all this, the second movement (08:56) is just exquisite. It’s my favorite part of the concerto. Go ahead, call me a sap.