MIKLOS ROZSA: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, op. 24; Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, op. 32; Theme and Variations for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, op. 29A. Robert McDuffie, violin; Lynn Harrell, cello; Yoel Levi conducts the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. (Telarc)
Although the Oscar-winning scores of Spellbound, A Double Life, and Ben Hur assure composer Miklos R� his place in history, these honors have obscured the beauty of his classical compositions. Born in Budapest, R� (1907-1995) moved to Paris in 1931, where his classical works attracted the attention of conductors such as the famous Dohnanyi. After composer Arthur Honegger suggested that R� try his hand at film scores, R� moved to London, where he composed music for a Marlene Dietrich film. When WWII made filmmaking difficult in Britain, R� relocated to Hollywood.
During the war years, R� met monthly with the Crescendo Club, a group of European musicians and composers who had settled in Southern California. Relationships flourished, leading R� to compose the Violin Concerto (1956) for the prodigious Jascha Heiftez and the Cello Concerto (1968) for Janos Starker. These energetic works immediately involve the listener; their lyric beauty combines Hungarian folk melodies with 20th-century sounds. The finale of the Violin Concerto had me cheering, while the darker, more dramatic end of the Cello Concerto left me thrilled. Violinist McDuffie and cellist Harrell perform superbly as soloists here and the overall sound quality is what we'd expect from the Telarc label.