Franz Waxman (1909-1967), well known Hollywood composer for such films as Sunset Boulevard, Taras Bulba, and Rebecca was also involved in the world of classical music conducting a series of concerts in Los Angeles beginning in 1947, the year he arranged the music of Carmen for violin and orchestra for the film Humoresque (1947) starring Joan Crawford and John Garfield. Originally to be performed by Heifetz it was played by a young Isaac Stern (his hands are photographed for the movie).

Carmen, composed by George Bizet (1838-1875), has turned out to be one of the more successful operas of all time with melodies that fit perfectly into this compilation to showcase some virtuoso violin playing. The orchestration was completed by his close friend Ernest Guiraud who completed the work as instructed by Bizet. Not too long after his Bizet’s death violinist Navascuez wrote a fantasy for violin and orchestra based on themes and often incorrectly given credit for the Waxman arrangement which is the preferred arrangement.

While the recording of choice for many is the RCA CD with Heifetz don’t overlook this new D’Alba release on Warner Brothers with the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire conducted by John Axelrod. Her technique reveals a flawless performance without the showmanship of Heifetz. There is a delicacy, flowing and lightness that Heifetz has failed to find in his recording. The Swiss born D’Alba also includes Porgy and Bess and Bernstein’s Serenade after Plato’s Symposium on her “American Serenade” CD. The other bonus to this CD is the digital recording which seems to have found a good balance between the violin and the orchestra. Each note or phrase is distinct and easy to hear and the yet the orchestra doesn’t seem too distant as I’ve heard on other recordings.

Available as a download on Classics Online or purchase at your store of choice this is one to consider for your collection. I wasn’t disappointed and I’m sure you won’t be either. Recommended