Rózsa Orchestral Works, Vol. 3

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COMPOSERS: Miklós Rózsa
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Rózsa Orchestral Works, Vol. 3
WORKS: Violin Concerto, Op. 24; Concerto for string orchestra, Op. 17; Theme, variations and finale, Op. 13
PERFORMER: Jennifer Pike (violin); BBC Philharmonic/Rumon Gamba


Jascha Heifetz was so revered by his peers and colleagues that a number of works written especially for him became virtually his exclusive property – no one dared take him on, especially once he had made a recording. The Korngold Violin Concerto waited decades before becoming a repertoire standard, while the Castelnuovo-Tedesco Violin Concerto No. 2 ‘I Profeti’ and Rózsa Violin Concerto, Op. 24 (both magnificent pieces) still linger on the sidelines.

Jennifer Pike immediately evokes memories of Heifetz with her silver purity of sound and quicksilver agility, inflected by a narrow, medium-fast vibrato. What sets her apart, however, is the gentle cushioning of her lifted strokes, her enhanced dynamic range and radiantly seductive playing during the more lyrical episodes. Where Heifetz verges on the relentless in his virtuoso intensity and brilliance, Pike gives us more light and shade, especially welcome in the finale’s playful dance rhythms, making this her finest recording yet.

The BBC Philharmonic and Rumon Gamba are on excellent form both here and in the stunning Concerto for String Orchestra, a by-product of Rózsa’s film noir period of the mid-1940s, highlighted by his indelible score for the 1944 hit Double Indemnity.

The Theme, Variations and Finale dates from his pre-Hollywood days and offers Bartók-on-the-lighter-side enchantment, masterfully orchestrated and brimming with attractive invention.


Julian Haylock