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Project Hungarica
Miklós RÓZSA (1907-1995)
Sonata Op. 40 for solo violin [20:02]
Sonata Op. 15a for two violins [16:24]
Zoltan KODÁLY (1882-1967)
Duo Op. 7 for violin and cello [22:53]
Szymon Krzeszowiec (violin), Bartłomiej Nizioł (violin), Adam Krzeszowiec (cello)
rec. Concert Hall of the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music, Katowice, Poland, 2011-2014
CD ACCORD ACD226-2 [59:32]

In his autobiography Double Life Miklós Rózsa explains how, though he became known principally as a ‘film composer’, his real love was to write music for the concert hall whether solo music or full scale orchestral works. He also explains that to coin a phrase ‘it may be possible to take the boy out of Hungary but you can’t take Hungary out of the boy’, and anyone who hears his ‘serious’ compositions will always be aware of the musical heritage he shared in. On the other hand, when it came to his music for films, there are few composers who wrote for that medium that were more successful than he was in putting the audience in whatever time and place the film called for. He could take us to ancient Egypt or transport us to the war against the Mahdi in 1895. In almost 100 films he created memorable music that helped many of them to become classics of the cinema, including El Cid, Ben Hur, Julius Caesar, The Asphalt Jungle and Ivanhoe, gaining him three Oscars in the process. His facility for writing memorable tunes is just as evident in all of them as it is in his concert music.

Writing for solo violin cannot be easy and to maintain the interest over 20 minutes is some feat. Few apart from Bach managed it. Rózsa was certainly one who did. Grounded in the expressive folk music of his native country this sonata is endlessly entertaining.

Rózsa’s Sonata Op.15a for two violins is a much earlier work, but shows the same innate ability to write ‘a good tune’, nay, a great one. The two violinists weave around each other magically and Rózsa integrates the folk elements brilliantly.

Zoltan Kodály, 25 years Rózsa’s senior came, from the same tradition and along with Bartók was an inveterate collector of folk music from the Hungarian, Romanian and Slovak traditions. The influence can once again be heard throughout his compositions just as with both Rózsa and Bartók. With such rich sources, how could any composer resist using them? Kodály’s Duo Op.7 for violin and cello is both rich and complex and the added cello gives the piece a special flavour. I couldn’t help having the image in mind of the addition of plain chocolate for enriching gravy.

If there are readers who are wary of dipping their aural toe into music they may at first think of as spare, I would urge them to try this disc; for one is unaware of that element since the music is so gorgeously rich that they will soon be won over. If they know the composers’ orchestral music they will feel at home with these chamber works. If not, then I recommend they search them out for they are consistently rewarding.

Both soloists here are excellent in their expressive renditions. They also understand the traditions the two composers came from, which helps bring that extra affinity to these performances.

Steve Arloff

 

 




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