Rózsa: String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 2; Sonata for Two Violins, Op. 15a

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COMPOSERS: Rózsa
LABELS: ASV
WORKS: String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 2; Sonata for Two Violins, Op. 15a
PERFORMER: Flesch Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 1105
Turn on the TV on a Saturday afternoon to catch an old movie and you stand a good chance of hearing some of the music of Miklós Rózsa. Side by side with a prolific career in film music (The Thief of Bagdad, Double Indemnity, Ben Hur, etc), Rózsa kept up a slow stream of concert works, some of which can be heard here. As with Bartók and Kodály, the influence of Hungarian folk music is to the fore, but while Rózsa seems to be pressing all the right buttons, there is something undistinguished and even a shade dull about most of this music. His two string quartets, for all their wild gypsy themes, dance tunes and maniacally fiery scherzos, are somehow less than the sum of their parts. A more free-spirited work, earlier than the quartets and sounding less burdened by the weight of tradition, is the Sonata for Two Violins, whose lament-like Lento in particular strikes a note of originality and conviction that one could do with more of in the quartets. The Sonata is beautifully played by members of the Flesch Quartet, who are occasionally inaccurate in the quartets but bring energy and passion to all they do. Christopher Wood

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