Orchestral Works Vol. 1/Rozsa

December 17, 2008

rozsa-orchestral-vol-11Written in 1956, revised in 1963, and dedicated to Eugen Zador (his orchestrator), Overture to a Symphony Concert, Op. 26A is quite an effective 9+ minute work, which incorporates much of the wonderful Rozsa noir and biblical sound and style from his film work of the 40’s and 50’s. That is not to say or infer that any of the themes come directly from any of his films, as he never did this unlike his contemporary Korngold who used some of his movie themes in his classical works. However, that recognizable style and sound comes through loud and clear. This reviewer felt like he was listening to a suite from a new unreleased film for the very first time. A trumpet fanfare gives the main theme of the work leading to a lower register repeat of the theme in a noir type statement. Brass and flute statements follow with his noir style again. While the flute and oboe give the work a small ray of hope it is overall on the darker side, bleak in nature.

Three Hungarian Sketches, Op. 14 was completed and performed in 1938, the Hungarian entry for the International Festival. This work has little in the way of any references to his film work, the main focus being on his native country. The 20+ minute work is divided into 3 parts: Capriccio, Pastorale, and Danza. The light and airy fantasia of the Capriccio opens this very upbeat work and sets the mood for the entire piece. The Pastorale is in the tradition of a true work of nature and the Danza very nicely depicts the folk dances of Hungary in a rhythm brass driven movement. The work was revised in 1958 and is written for full orchestra.

Tripartita, Op. 33 was written in 1971 around the time he was reworking his violin concerto for use in the Billy Wilder film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. It is a three-movement suite written in a similar format and length to his Hungarian Sketches only this work definitely has some ‘film noir’ sound to it. The beginning Intrada easily sounds like one of his 40’s films with the relentless and raw theme sometimes augmented with the staccato brass. The Intermezzo arioso has a similar yearning sound to The Lost Weekend. It has the feel of a quiet nocturnal piece but always with mystery and an eerie like quality. You’re waiting for something to happen and it does in full force in the Finale, a ferocious, wild, and rhythmic excursion into an unsettling conclusion to this excellent suite!

Hungarian Serenade, Op.25 written in 1946, is a revision of the work Serenade that dates back to 1932. Again this is a work that must have come from fond memories of his native country. The 22+ minute work is divided into 5 sections: Marcia, Serenata, Scherzo, Notturno, and Danza. Written for small orchestra it is a diverse work consisting of lively dances, romance, and thought provoking material.

If you’re tastes lend itself toward that ‘Rozsa Sound’ you won’t be disappointed and actually welcome listening to works that don’t limit his composing to the film. This reviewer welcomes this recording and future releases (this is vol. 1).

CD# CHAN 10488
Rumon Gamba conducts the BBC Philharmonic

Track Listing:
1…Overture to a Symphony Concert, Op. 26a (9:07)
2-4 Three Hungarian Sketches, Op. 14 (20:08)
5-7 Tripartita, Op. 33 (22:20)
8-12 Hungarian Serenade, Op. 25 (22:44)
Total Time is 74:46

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