Overture to a Symphony Concert, Op. 26a (revised version)/Rozsa

January 28, 2011

It could be successfully argued that the concert material that Rozsa composed was every bit as good as his soundtrack material if not better. Overture to a Symphony Concert Naxos CD# 8.572285 is an outstanding example of this. Those who are familiar with his epic biblical scores will instantly recognize the style of the material he became known for from the time he spent in Hollywood. The work was composed in 1956, revised in 1963, and is dedicated to his fellow countryman, arranger, and orchestrator Eugene Zador. The revision of the work had to do with a shortening of the coda and also the publisher of his works was asking for a composition of a specific length and one could surmise that it was cut back for this reason.


Beginning with a trumpet fanfare followed by the rest of the brass section the lower strings carry the melody and a conflict begins. The overall mood is one of anger and dissonance. It is interrupted by a single flute that is playing the melody upbeat and positive but the conflict from the brass full of distorted warlike chords win out. The ending is abrupt as if the opus was created, developed, and then just ran out of energy and dies. This overture sounds like it could have come from any number of noir/biblical films and as a result is one that deserves to be in your collection if you’re a fan of his work. The work was well played by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra and the recording session was top notch. I was impressed with the fact that there was an excitement and energy present in the symphony making you feel they were really enjoying playing the material.


Chandos CD#10488 with Gamba and the BBC Philharmonic recorded the overture in 2008 and offer a slight overall advantage of a 24 bit 96kHz recording. These recordings are just some of the best in the digital realm and it really shines in the distinct clarity in the softer passages. One can hear everything. However, the overall orchestra playing isn’t nearly as strong resulting in a more going “through the motions performance.” The CD also includes Three Hungarian Sketches (also reviewed), Tripartita and Hungarian Serenade.

In addition to anyone enjoying program overtures, fans of Rozsa scores should definitely explore this material.


Track Listing:


Overture to a Symphony Concert, Op. 26a (revised version)

1.                 Overture to a Symphony Concert, Op. 26a (revised version) 00:09:27

Rhapsody, Op. 3

2.                 Rhapsody, Op. 3 00:15:07

Notturno ungherese, Op. 28

3.                 Notturno ungherese, Op. 28 00:10:02

3 Hungarian Sketches, Op. 14a

4.                 No. 1. Capriccio 00:05:20

5.                 No. 2. Pastorale 00:08:25

6.                 No. 3. Danza 00:08:18


Total Playing Time: 00:56:39



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