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Rozsa: Three Hungarian Sketches, Cello Rhapsody, Hungarian Nocturne / Smolij, Kosower

Rozsa / Kosower / Bdsy Mav / Smolij
Release Date: 01/25/2011 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572285  
Composer:  Miklós Rózsa
Performer:  Mark Kosower
Conductor:  Mariusz Smolij
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 57 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

These are beautiful, energetic, colorful performances of music that is equally so. Miklós Rózsa's concert music sounds just like his film music, and all of it sounds Hungarian, whether it's called Ben-Hur or Three Hungarian Sketches. Mariusz Smolij certainly seems as though he's enjoying himself, and the orchestra plays with the kind of uninhibited verve that this music really needs. In the Cello Rhapsody Mark Kosower sports an attractive timbre and he shapes the tunes with incisive rhythm and a nice feeling for the music's melodic curves. Topping it all off: excellent engineering. There's really nothing more to say. If you like Rózsa's film music you're going to enjoy this every bit as much.

--David
Read more Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

Rózsa’s four works in this disc cover a thirty-five year compositional span. The earliest is the 1929 Rhapsody, which doesn’t appear to have been recorded before. The cello enters lightly, indeed, in an almost English fokloric way – at points you might think this was Finzi, for example, in genial mood – though procedurally things are perhaps more attuned to Bartókian development and to the ethos of Bloch too. The little cadenza for the warm toned cellist Mark Kosower is accomplished well, and the vivace close employs brisk rhythmic material, quite angular and forward moving. It all makes for a somewhat unusual slice of Rózsa, but a very welcome one.

Just before the outbreak of World War 2, he completed the Three Hungarian Sketches; Capriccio, Pastorale and Danza. The first is an energetic affair, again hinting at Bloch-like sonorities, obviously folk-based, and well orchestrated. The pert wind writing is rather worthy of note. The Pastorale has considerable lyric depth and a real beauty, full of colour and incident – a country idyll of memorable concision and sense of projection. By contrast the last of the sketches is a fiery dance, with a full complement of bagpipe and fiddle drone, the whole ensemble swirling away wildly. There’s a solo violin moment and chugging basses into the bargain.

The brassy canonic flourish, with which the Overture to a Symphony Concert opens, promises frisson. We get it, but also more fractious writing too. Those little ascending, questioning lines and pounding brass and percussion statements may, indeed, as the composer himself noted, reflect something of his own feelings about the Hungarian Uprising of the previous year. But it’s not presented programmatically, though retrospectively one may perhaps adduce the urgent trumpet calls to the prevailing political circumstances in the country of his birth. Finally we have Notturno ungherese of 1963-64, which moves briskly from a sunset opening to a powerful brass led procession.

The recording is first class and the performances sound committed, idiomatic and sharply attuned to the composer’s sensibilities.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Hungarian Sketches (3), Op. 14 by Miklós Rózsa
Conductor:  Mariusz Smolij
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938 
2. Overture to a Symphony Concert, Op. 26 by Miklós Rózsa
Conductor:  Mariusz Smolij
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957 
3. Rhapsody for Cello and Piano by Miklós Rózsa
Performer:  Mark Kosower (Cello)
Conductor:  Mariusz Smolij
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
4. Hungarian Nocturne, Op. 28 by Miklós Rózsa
Conductor:  Mariusz Smolij
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964 

Sound Samples

Overture to a Symphony Concert, Op. 26a (revised version)
Rhapsody, Op. 3
Notturno ungherese, Op. 28
3 Hungarian Sketches, Op. 14a: No. 1. Capriccio
3 Hungarian Sketches, Op. 14a: No. 2. Pastorale
3 Hungarian Sketches, Op. 14a: No. 3. Danza

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