Review By Robert Moon,Audiophile Audition,June 2010
Gilad Karni plays the viola with a combination of virtuosity and heartfelt emotion. The Budapest Concert Orchestra, although not a major group, plays competently. The recording favors the viola slightly, but the orchestral details are clearly present…this recording will convince you that he also was a significant composer of concert music.
Review By Jerry Dubins,Fanfare,July 2009
Review By Gil French,American Record Guide,May 2009
The Viola Concerto, written in 1979 for Pinchas Zukerman, is a magnificent work. While it feels like a giant lament, each of its four movements is written in dramatic sonata-allegro form (even the second movement Giocoso is, in shortened form), which raises it far above a morose experience. For anyone familiar with the music of Bartók and especially Kodály, this work literally drips with Hungarian ambience, though its poignant harmonic sixths, rhythmic kick, and modulations are very akin to Walton’s Viola Concerto.
Review By Raymond Tuttle,Classical Net,May 2009
This disc fills a decided gap, because there appear to be no other currently available recordings of these works. The Viola Concerto is a late work, dating from 1979, and composed for Pinchas Zukerman…at the suggestion of Gregor Piatigorsky. (At any rate, Zukerman never recorded it, although he did give the premiere performance in 1984) Unusually, it is in four movements. Rózsa did not think highly of it, and it is the least immediately appealing of his concertante works. It is tense and dark, and whatever humor it displays is of the grotesque variety. One also hears hints of the composer’s earlier film scores. The first movement, for example, reminds me of the music that Rózsa composed in 1947 for the Edward G. Robinson thriller The Red . This is a worthwhile score, but one can understand why it hasn’t caught on. Violist Gilad Karni makes a good case for it, applying his rich tone liberally, and relishing the score’s all-pervasive Magyar colorings…The Hungarian Serenade is quite an early work…Originally for strings only, the Serenade eventually was reconfigured for full orchestra, and this is how it is performed here. In keeping with the genre, it opens with a March (but does not close with one), which is followed by a Serenata, a Scherzo, a Notturno, and a Danza. Despite the Italian movement titles, this work is Hungarian through and through—perhaps in the style of Kodály, who knew how to dress Hungarian folk music up without making it relinquish its true character…The orchestra heard here is, believe it or not, the official orchestra of the Hungarian railroad system! It has been in existence since 1945 and plays with know-how and enthusiasm…Smolij, who seems to have conducted more orchestras than I have had hot dinners, has built a good rapport with the orchestra, and his reading of these two scores is honest and sympathetic.more....
Review By Steve Arloff,MusicWeb International,April 2009
Miklós Rózsa was a truly remarkable composer. He left Hungary at the age of 18 in 1925 and, apart from a brief visit in 1974, never set foot again in his native country. Even so, his music carries an absolutely genuine and immediately identifiable Hungarian imprint. To quote the composer himself “the music of Hungary is stamped indelibly one way or another on virtually every bar I have ever put on paper”. When no feature work appeared in Paris where he’d gone from his studies at Leipzig Conservatoire he took up writing music for films at the suggestion of Arthur Honegger. He first tried his luck in London where his debut score was for Knight Without Armour for Sir Alexander Korda in 1937. By 1940 he had become Korda’s “one man
This disc presents two works from each end of his composing career, the viola concerto of 1979 being his last orchestral work. It has an overall dark feel to it more akin to Bartók than to Kodály whose music the other work here, the Hungarian Serenade, more closely resembles. Opening with a brooding theme almost immediately taken up by the soloist, who is called upon to play virtually without a break throughout. The concerto has a sweeping momentum that demands attention and passionate themes that are full of emotion. Lovers of Hungarian themes will particularly enjoy the concerto as they are very much to the fore here as they are in all his works. Peasant dances and folk-style fiddling abound. Gilad Karni is a great soloist who obviously relishes his role here. The orchestra give committed support. This concerto proves yet again that the viola does not deserve the reputation it has for being second rate in comparison with the violin. Here it is called upon to perform beautiful phrases and heart-felt ideas.
The Hungarian Serenade which dates from 1945 had a long gestation to arrive at its present completed state. It began life as a piece for string orchestra simply entitled Serenade. The premiere came in 1932 at the opera house in Budapest under Bruno Walter. There it received furious applause from none other than Richard Strauss who was there with the wife of Dohnányi. The work went through several revisions which included removing the final march and its replacement by a lively dance. It teems with folk-inspired music and shows once again how emotionally tied Rózsa was to his native land. It receives a wonderful performance from this orchestra which began its life as one founded in 1945 by Hungarian State Railways!…If proof is still required by some that Rózsa was a master composer whose reputation should not be confined to his fabulous film scores then this disc is one more salvo in that argument. more....
Review By Michael Loos,www.klassik.com,April 2009
Als Verfasser von Filmmusiken für Hollywood gelangen Miklós Rózsa (1907–95) große Erfolge, als Komponist absoluter Musik bleibt er ein Geheimtipp. Dabei arbeitete er mit den führenden Instrumentalisten seiner Zeit zusammen: Das Violinkonzert op. 24 entstand für keinen Geringeren als Jascha Heifetz, das Doppelkonzert ('Sinfonia Concertante') op. 29 für Heifetz und Gregor Piatigorsky. Doch beide Werke wird man heute nur höchst selten antreffen. Dies gilt auch für das auf vorliegender CD zu hörende Violakonzert op. 37, das 1984 von Pinchas Zukerman aus der Taufe gehoben wurde. In vier Sätzen konzipiert, nähert es sich auf den ersten Blick dem Typus des symphonischen Konzertes an. Nach dem ersten Hören
Wie alle Komponisten eines Konzertes für Viola stand auch Rózsa vor der Herausforderung, das Gleichgewicht zwischen dem relativ klangschwachen Instrument und dem Orchester zu wahren. Dies gelang ihm durch häufiges Ausweichen der Orchesterinstrumente auf hohe und tiefe Lagen; die Mittellage bleibt weitgehend dem Solisten vorbehalten. Karni gelingt es im Laufe des Stückes, seiner Viola elegisch-lyrische Töne ebenso zu entlocken wie—vor allem in Scherzo und Finale—spielerische Virtuosität. Auch die Kadenz des Kopfsatzes bietet ihm dazu Gelegenheit. Man kann angesichts der herausragenden Fähigkeiten des Solisten die eine oder andere langwierige Passage des Werkes verschmerzen. Die Musiker des Orchesters absolvieren ihren Part souverän, wobei sie keine übermäßigen Schwierigkeiten bewältigen müssen. Kein Zweifel, dieses Werk steht und fällt mit der Leistung des Solisten—Karnis Anteil an dem höchst gelungenen Eindruck ist hoch. Sein Ton ist warm, flexibel und dort, wo es notwendig ist, auch kräftig. Gleichermaßen dem Dirigenten wie der Tontechnik anzurechnen ist die gute Balance, ein Problem in vielen Aufnahmen von Violakonzerten—hier nicht. Als Ganzes hat das Werk gewisse Schwächen, aber in seinen besten Momenten—etwa im raffinierten 'Allegro giocoso'-Scherzo—bietet es höchste kompositorische Meisterschaft.
Die Ungarische Serenade schneidet im direkten Vergleich schwächer ab, obwohl sie—anders als das fast durchgehen tragische Violakonzert—auch heitere Momente bietet. Von parodistischen Zügen ist das Werk jedoch frei, Neoklassizismus war Rózsas Sache offenbar nicht. Vom beschwingten Fagott-Beginn über das Scherzo (nicht ganz so genial wie der entsprechende Satz des Konzertes) bis hin zur beschließenden 'Danza' gibt es in dieser Aufnahme viele hörenswerte Passagen, die interpretatorisch sorgfältig herausgearbeitet werden. Lediglich die 'Serenata' (Track 6) schleppt sich etwas träge dahin. Rózsa gelangen—so zumindest mein Eindruck—die schnellen Sätze am besten, hier konnte er seine orchestrale Brillanz entfalten.
Höhepunkt dieser CD ist ohne Zweifel das Violakonzert, das man ohne Bedenken in eine Reihe mit den großen Werken für dieses leider immer noch ein wenig belächelte Instrument stellen kann. Rózsas Komposition steht hier neben den besten Schöpfungen der Gattung, etwa von Martinu, Walton oder Hindemith. Sind die Konzerte dieser Tondichter schon selten zu hören, so muss Rózsas Stück als echte Rarität gelten. Gilad Karni hat mit seiner bravourösen Interpretation die Messlatte hoch angelegt. Die Ungarische Serenade ist dagegen eher eine nette Zugabe, kennen muss man sie nicht unbedingt. Auf weitere Entdeckungen im Oeuvre des Ungarn, der in Hollywood sein Glück machte, darf man gespannt sein.more....
Review By Guy Rickards,Gramophone,March 2009
Two fine works rich in Magyar colours spanning the bulk of Rózsa's career. The recording industry's sustained interest in Rózsa's concert music is heartening and this new disc from Naxos is its latest manifestation. Both works exhibit fully the strengths and appeal of the composer's output as a whole, from its impeccable craftsmanship to its lilting Hungarian accent. The personal voice—close stylistically at times to Kodály and Bartók—is recognisably that of the film composer whose music graced the silver screen for so long. The Hungarian Serenade started Life in the early 1930s as his Op 10 for strings but Rózsa's senior colleague Erno von Dohnányi (who conducted the premiere in 1932) persuaded the young more....
Review By Ritmo,March 2009
Review By Pizzicato,February 2009
Review By Jeff Hall,ScreenSounds,January 2009
Naxos has released yet another volume of Miklos Rozsa concert works, one, the Hungarian Serenade, from quite early in his career and his Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, from 1979, which was in fact not only his last concerto, but also his last orchestral work.
Recorded in Budapest in 2007, the music is performed by the Budapest Concert Orchestra MAV and conducted by Mariusz Smolij, with Gilad Karni featuring on the viola.
Review By David Denton, Naxos,December 2008
The world of classical music is unforgiving to those who sell their musical soul to Hollywood, and any thought of returning to their roots has been hastily dismissed. The Hungarian, Miklos Rozsa, was one of the few to keep working in both fields through much of his long life, though it was more by accident than choice that he had found himself in California at the onset of the Second World War. He was to offer his talents in creating scores of epic quality for the MGM studios, becoming one of cinemas most highly regarded composers of his time. In the classical world he never moved much away from his Hungarian roots, and though his output was more commercially orientated than Bartok, they shared much in common. Indeed in Rozsa’s Viola Concerto there are more....