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Friday, September 26, 2008


Miklos Rozsa: Orchestral Works, Vol.1
Chandos CHAN 10488 (UK)
12 Tracks 74:46 mins

Though not a film music related release, I am gladly reviewing this fine compilation of Miklos Rozsa's concert works for orchestra, performed by Rumon Gamba and the BBC Philharmonic, which is available next month, largely because a) I just love the great man's music, and b) like Korngold, Rozsa's concert work is always melodic and not that stylistically removed from his film work, unlike other composers who have written much more challenging (and let's face it, dull) music for the concert hall, in stark contrast to their work in films.
Four works are presented on this generous album, which commences with 1956's Overture to a Symphony Concert (revised in 1963), a work that shortly precedes his epic film scores Ben-Hur, El Cid and the like, and can be appreciated by fans of those works, starting as it does with a typical fanfare, as can often be found in his epic scores and going on to present some pretty stirring and turbulent stuff on the way to its thrilling climax.
Three Hungarian Sketches (1938, revised 1958) follows. The first movement is often quite busy and suggestive of a wild folk dance at times, but actually ends on quite a whimsical note. The second movement starts quite serenely, but picks up, becoming quite majestic, before ending as before as essentially a nocturne. The material from the opening movement gets a thorough and thrilling workout in the closing movement, with only brief, quiet interludes.
Rozsa's Tripartita (1971, revised 1972) was his penultimate orchestral concert work. The opening movement, after a quiet start, soon becomes quite forceful and even threatening, in the style of the composer's film noir scores, powering its way to the conclusion. Movement 2 is again something of a nocturne, starting out quite mysteriously on flute, but become more impassioned and even quite anguished in the strings, before ending as it began, only with violin taking the lead. The rhythmic third movement brings the piece to a pretty exciting close, only pausing for a subdued mid-section, featuring a conversation between oboe and violin, which even then becomes quite dramatic.
Finally, the disc ends with the composer's Hungarian Serenade, composed in 1932, and revised in 1946. There are five movements, the first being quite a joyful foksy march. In complete contrast is the following strings-only serenade, which gives way to the often boisterous third movement, though it does feature a quite noble mid-section. The fourth movement is a somewhat introspective nocturne, before the fifth's joyful folk dance concludes the piece.
Accompanying the disc is the usual informative booklet, in three languages, with extensive notes by Andrew Knowles on the man and each featured piece.
Although I've managed to acquire most of Rozsa's concert works on one format or another over the years, the release of these pieces (and hopefully more on subsequent volumes) on CD is very much welcome indeed, and will hopefully introduce new admirers to the Hungarian composer's work. Visit

From Costa Communications:


Premieres at ScreamFestLA on October 16, 2008

In Theaters Halloween 2008

(Los Angeles, CA) Composer Elia Cmiral creates a haunting score for “Splinter,” the first full-length film by award-winning director Toby Wilkins. In the film, a convict and his girlfriend carjack a couple on a weekend retreat in the woods. The couples soon find themselves trapped together in an isolated gas station, on the run from a deadly parasite that occupies the woods outside. Cmiral will attend the film’s premiere at ScreamFestLA as the festival’s Centerpiece film on October 16, 2008. It opens in theaters on October 31, 2008.

ScreamFestLA, a film festival devoted entirely to the horror genre, showcases some of the best independent short and full-length horror films each year. “Splinter” director Toby Wilkins won Best Horror Short for his film “Staring at the Sun” in 2005, garnering the attention of producer Sam Raimi, who then chose Wilkins to produce, direct, and write a number of short films for his production company, Ghost House Pictures. This year, the festival runs from October 10th to October 19th at Grauman’s Mann Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood, Calif.

No stranger to the world of thrillers, Cmiral scored “Tooth & Nail” and “The Deaths of Ian Stone,” both featured at last year’s After Dark Horrorfest. Most recently, he finished scoring “Pulse 2: Afterlife,” the sequel to last year’s Wes Craven film, “Pulse,” for which he also wrote the score. This was Cmiral’s second collaboration with Craven, having scored “Wes Craven Presents: They” in 2002. In addition, he scored John Frankenheimer’s suspense thriller “Ronin,” starring Robert DeNiro. Cmiral continues to provide highly original and evocative scores for major Hollywood studios as well as independent filmmakers, including “Journey to the End of the Night,” “Stigmata,” “Bones” and “Species 3.”

Born in Czechoslovakia, Elia Cmiral quickly established himself as one of Europe’s leading young composers after graduating from the prestigious Prague Music Conservatory. He wrote scores for several European films and three ballets before coming to the United States to attend USC’s famous Film Scoring Program, after which he was hired to produce tango-based music for “Apartment Zero,” composing a now-classic full length score in a scant ten days. By the mid-1990s, Cmiral had garnered a reputation with Hollywood executives, leading to his scoring the successful “Nash Bridges” television series.


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