Korngold & Rózsa – Violin Concertos

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COMPOSERS: Korngold,Rózsa
LABELS: Orchid
WORKS: Violin Concertos; plus works by Ponce/Heifetz; A Benjamin/Primrose; Foster/Heifetz
PERFORMER: Matthew Trusler (violin); Dusseldorf SO/Yasuo Shinozaki
CATALOGUE NO: ORC 100005

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 So all-encompassing in their musical intensity and technical mastery are Heifetz’s 1950s premiere RCA recordings of these two virtuoso swashbucklers that for many years hardly anyone else was prepared to take them on.

Although happily this is no longer the case, no one has so far been entirely successful in shaking off the influence of the man popularly dubbed the ‘violinist of the century’.

Full marks, then, to Matthew Trusler who not only integrates with the orchestral textures in both concertos in a way that was anathema to Heifetz, but in the Korngold takes the first movement’s Moderato nobile marking at face value (Heifetz and most of his successors are closer to Allegro con fuoco ed espressivo).

As a result we can savour the extraordinary detail and subtle dovetailing of Korngold’s orchestral writing as never before as Trusler weaves in and out of the textures with the heightened instincts of a born chamber musician.

No less compelling is the Rózsa, which has always seemed short on the kind of emotional warmth and splendour familiar from his epic film score to Ben-Hur. (In this respect Castelnuovo Tedesco’s I Propheti Concerto – another Heifetz first – sounds more like Rózsa than Rózsa himself.)

Yet Trusler, devotedly supported by Yasuo Shinozaki and his Dusseldorf players, imparts an expressive warmth to the music that points up its real point of stylistic departure: Bartók’s Second Concerto.

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The disc is rounded out in style by three Heifetz specialities – Ponce’s Estrellita, Benjamin’s Jamaican Rumba and Foster’s Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair – in skilful Peter Ash orchestral arrangements, played by Trusler with sensitivity. Julian Haylock