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Miklós RÓZSA (1907-1995)
Sinfonia Concertante op. 29 (1958) [31:16]
Notturno Ungherese op. 28 (1962) [8:31]
Tripartita op. 33 (1972) [23:52]
András Agoston (violin)
Lászlo Fenjö (cello)
Philharmonia Hungarica/Werner Andreas Albert
rec. Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln, Stadthalle Vennehof, 11-20 Oct 2000 (Op. 29); 26-30 May 2000 (opp. 28, 33). DDD
CPO 999 839-2 [63:42]


If works are to live they need to find new executant champions. We cannot indefinitely be sustained by past exemplars and lofty heroes. For this reason it is good to have this new collection which, rather like the Telarc recording of the Rózsa concertos for violin and cello, offers a more natural perspective than the fierce almost ill-tempered intensity of Heifetz and Piatigorsky amongst others.

Rózsa's often tempestuously aggressive Sinfonia Concertante is here given a concert hall ambience that places the two soloists further back and allows the orchestra more of the spotlight. There is plenty of Bartókian point, barb, grit and resin in the performance as well as a poetic yield (8:20 in I) that certainly gratifies. I think you will learn more about this work in this understated and Delian approach than you will from the unremitting glare of other performances. I am sure that the late Christopher Palmer, such a champion of Rózsa, would have loved this version especially in the green-leaved ecstasies of the Tema con variazioni.

The Notturno ungherese has that ‘long day ended’ warmth also to be found in Kodaly's Summer evening. This is Rózsa at his considerable best. Amongst the ‘Hungarianisms’ do I also hear a laid-back cowboy romance reminiscent of Shenandoah and the great rivers - a sort of rolling Vltava. This is a lovely piece extremely well done.

The Tripartita here receives its second recording having been premiered by Rostropovich with the National Symphony in Washington. Its first recording came late on with Davis Amos on Harmonia Mundi now reissued. I first encountered the work in a studio concert broadcast for one of Rózsa's last birthdays. It was enthusiastically done by Ashley Lawrence with the BBC Concert Orchestra, heroes of a thousand studio tapes and, in repertoire terms, a far more significant orchestra than there fourth tier reputation suggests. The Tripartita is in three movements; now there’s a surprise. The first is a vicious bubbling little Intrada, eager with the vehement aggression of one of his ‘film noir’ scores of the 1950s. The Intermezzo arioso is typically haunted; a landscape lent ominous monotones by a solar eclipse -there is a chill in the air. An explosive Waltonian allegro con brio brings things to a wild-eyed end after a slackening of tension in the central core of the movement. This piece would pair very neatly with say Moeran's Sinfonietta or Constant Lambert's Music for Orchestra (the latter still incomprehensibly waiting in the queue for its first recording).

The disc is typically well documented, tightly written and full of relevant detail. This time there is little in the way of the sort of abstruse navel-gazing we occasionally get from CPO’s commissioned writers.

A refreshing collection with excellent interpretations all round.

Rob Barnett

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