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Film Music Review (Volumes 1-7)





The Miklos Rozsa Collection:
Music For Guitar

Arranged by Gregg Nestor

22 Tracks (Playing Time = 67:05)



William Kanengiser, Raymond Burley, Gregg Nestor, Guitars

With Francisco Castillo, Oboe; Carole
Kleister-Castillo, Violin

Featuring music from BLOOD ON THE SUN (1945); CRISIS (1950); EL CID (1961); GREEN FIRE (1954); LYDIA (1941); MADAME BOVARY (1949); MOONFLEET (1955); PROVIDENCE (1977); THAT HAMILTON WOMAN (1941); TIP ON A DEAD JOCKEY (1957); A WOMAN’S VENGEANCE (1948); and YOUNG BESS (1953); as well as Kaleidoscope, Op. 19c; and the Sonata for Guitar, Op. 42.

Execuitve Album Producers for BSX Records: Ford A. Thaxton and Mark Banning.
Album Produced by Gregg Nestor.
Engineer: John Strother.
Digitally Edited and Mastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland.
CD Art Direction: Mark Banning.
Recorded at Penguin Recording, Eagle Rock, California.

BSX Records BSXCD 8845

Limited Edition of 1000 copies

Rating: ****

This has been such an amazing year for older soundtrack releases that this little release from BSX might have completely slipped under the radar.

Guitarist Gregg Nestor has arranged a variety of works for his instrument that have expanded the repertoire admirably. And he is responsible for the commissioning of the sonata which Rozsa wrote for the instrument in 1986.

The first half of the disc features come from the composer’s more classical composition drawer. It begins with a set of delightful miniatures which Rozsa composed for his children in 1946. Kaleidoscope, Op. 19c is a six-movement work of little pieces for two guitars (performed with Raymond Burley) that include an opening march, a delightful musette, and a beautiful lullaby in addition to a couple of ethnic music pieces (“Zingara” and “Chinese Carillon”) and a fun concluding burlesque. There is a lot of delightful music in this suite that features a more modal sounding harmonic palette that resembles a gentler Bartok-ian sensibility. The Sonata for Guitar, Op. 42 is a classically-conceived work in every sense of the word from its sonata form construction and an interior canzon movement, to the exciting final movement. There are some melodic qualities to the work that recall those of the composer’s epic period scores but here cast in a far more intimate light. Written in 1986, the work feels more like a piece of the 1950s at times, but it has a freshness and intricate design that warrants its establishment in the repertoire. It is one of the many delightful discoveries on the disc.

Admittedly, the thought of such a largely-conceived work as EL CID’s score re-imagined for guitar seemed a rather hefty goal. And yet, the performance and arrangement here of the “Overture” is one that is both extremely musical and intricately engaging as some of the finer details of Rozsa’s harmony and counterpoint can so clearly be delineated on this two-guitar setting (Nestor is joined here by William Kenengiser). A soulful oboe (performed by Francisco Castillo), and later violin (performed by Carole Kleister-Castillo), is added to the texture for the following “Love Theme” making for a nice contrast to the preceding material as well. All this music lies well for the guitar and this is clear throughout these first two adaptations which have an appropriately Castillian feel to them made more audible in this setting. In many ways, the performances practically transport you back to the period of the story.

Other selections on the disc include the beautiful love theme from THAT HAMILTON WOMAN, and a couple of suites from scores for LYDIA and CRISIS, the latter score from 1950 originally composed mostly for two guitars. The central portion of the disc features a variety of source cues which Rozsa composed to fit specific period scenes. There sounds tend to waver between a Renaissance style and a more Baroque one (i.e. the delightful “Bouree” from MOONFLEET) depending on the film. But they all sound like long lost guitar miniature gems. Two of these, music from YOUNG BESS and MADAME BOVARY, are arranged for two guitars and are beautifully balanced here between the two instruments. Nestor’s solo tracks are all beautifully realized with “The Tokyo Tea Room Waltz” from BLOOD ON THE SUN a particularly engaging, if brief, musical work. The theme from GREEN FIRE sounds like something from every guitarist’s Spanish guitar playbook in this light, but with Rozsa’s unique and engaging melodic stamp it becomes something much more.

Each guitar voice is assigned a different side of the sound spectrum to identify the performer, but it actually recreates a more realistic concert sound that is warm and intimate throughout. The instruments themselves have beautiful tone quality and the performances are quite clean and crisp (without the too-close miked finger noises that often can distract those unfamiliar with classical guitar recordings).

This is an overall wonderful release that features an intelligently written and engaging overview of the selections included in this fine release. For a variety of highlighted clips from the release, you can visit the label’s website:

This is a great disc of music that will have great appeal to guitar music fans as well as those looking for a way to introduce the music of this great composer to your more classically-minded friends.

--Steven A. Kennedy , 12 December 2008

Comments regarding this review can be sent to the writer at this address:


A few additional comments...

I completely agree with Steve's opinion of this wonderful CD of Gregg Nestor's flavorful arrangements of Miklos Rozsa's film music.

We need more recordings like this one to demonstratethat film music need not only be performed by orchestras and pop groups. This ensemble of musicians play their respects to one of Hollywood's best composers. And the CD notes are by Herrmann's biographer, Steven C. Smith.

This is a first rate CD, beautifully recorded, and also has a handsomely designed booklet.

It is highly recommended for all Rozsaphiles, or any listener who appreciates the art of film music from Hollywood's Golden Age.

-- Roger Hall, FMR Editor

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