Rózsa: Sonata for Solo Violin; Variations on a Hungarian Peasant Song
The name of Hungarian composer Miklós Rózsa may be more closely associated with film music -- he won Academy Awards for his scores for Ben Hur and Hitchcock's Spellbound, to name but two -- but his concert music is fortunately being discovered anew and finding itself on more concert stages and CDs. The present album focuses on his works for violin and piano, works that spanned nearly 60 years of the composer's lifetime. Throughout these compositions, the strong influence of Bartók and especially Kodály can be easily identified; Rózsa uses Hungarian harmonies and folk melodies with as much zeal and passion as his forerunners. His "Sonata for Solo Violin," written in 1986, is in much the same spirit as Kodály's "Op. 8 Sonata for Solo Cello." Rózsa is posthumously fortunate to have violinist Philippe Quint and pianist William Wolfram recording these works. Though neither of them is of Hungarian descent, their playing and approach to their instruments is deeply rooted in that tradition. Quint's playing in particular is incredibly captivating from the first note of the album to the last. His intonation is splendidly precise, articulation is crisp and precise, and his sound is dark and gloriously sultry. His musical interpretations are passionate, driven, and entirely convincing, from the lugubrious Largo doloroso of Op. 7 to the frenetic and fiendish Finale of Op. 40. This album surely has a welcome place in virtually any collection.