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Rozsa - Bagatellen Op.12

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by techneut, Nov 18, 2013.

  1. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    The last of my long and over-productive weekend spent on some unfamiliar repertoire, and to get some stuff off my over-crowded music stand.
    Miklos Rozsa was to become famous as composer of epic film scores like the Ben Hur. These early Bagatelles (1932) are redolent of Bartok and Kodaly in folksy mood. I find much to enjoy in them. No.3 is perhaps a bit bland, but nos. 2 and 5 are exquisite, and the others are vigorous and bouncy. Fun stuff to play - and hopefully to listen to.

    Rozsa - Bagatellen Op.12 - 1: Kleiner Marsch (1:30)
    Rozsa - Bagatellen Op.12 - 2: Novellette (2:48)
    Rozsa - Bagatellen Op.12 - 3: Valse Lente (2:21)
    Rozsa - Bagatellen Op.12 - 4: Ungarisch (1:40)
    Rozsa - Bagatellen Op.12 - 5: Canzone (1:30)
    Rozsa - Bagatellen Op.12 - 6: Capricietto (2:34)
     
  2. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    There! You have got there too!

    I would not say they are redolent of Bartok or Kodaly, two composers whom he hardly knew, having met the former only once in his life, when already in his American exile, while the latter he only knew by name. Rozsa's musical education did not even take place in Hungary, having moved to Leipzig to study music, then going immediately after graduating to Paris, London and finally Holywood. Better to say the similarities stem from their common Hungarian roots. Rozsa, in younger years, would spend all the time he could on the family estate in northen Hungary, where he collected the songs of the villagers, some of which he used in his North Hungarian Peasant Songs and Dances and in his Variations on a Hungarian Peasant song. It was an idiom that, having made his own, he would never abandon, even though he left his homelabd when he was 24, returning only once for a brief visit in 1975. His hungarianness is evident even in pieces he wrote much later in life, such as the vilin concerto, written for Heifetz.

    Two of these Bagatelles made their way into his Hungarian Serenade, though in a different form.
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I should perhaps have said the music shows its Hungarian roots as vividly as similar works by Bartok and Kodaly.
    Anyway thanks Richard, for suggesting Rozsa to me, a composer I had not previously considered. I really love these colorful pieces.
     
  4. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    You are welcome!

    When the year started I had not a single piece by him,either recording or score now I have four different versions of his violin concerto!
     
  5. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'm another Rozsa fan, or rather my wife is another Rozsa fan and I listen to his stuff whenever she puts it on.
    This is fun, and a very good recording job, too, Chris.
    I do want to alert you to the dead link, however - if you click on his picture on the front page you're taken to a blank page. Clicking on his name in the composer list has the same effect. This is probably a work in progress but I thought it best to point it out just in case.
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Stu.
    Yes I know, I'll need to create a page and the links to it.
     
  7. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    These are good little pieces, except, as you say, number three.

    This time I followed with score and I notice there are many more dynamic contrasts in the score than come though. Is this the way you wanted it?
     
  8. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Of course not. It's just how it turns out. I may not have observed all of them and also, non-professional recording does flatten out dynamics, as is often observed here.
     
  9. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I suppose I am very sensitive to dynamics these days, as I have been trying my best to observe them (sometnig that before I could not do) and maybe I imagine there to be greater difference between p and f that there actually is.

    You seem to have a pretty good setup for recordings, as I remember. Certainly it is my dream to have something similar to yours!
     
  10. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    I thought these were very good. Lots of colour to them. Thanks for the upload!
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Maybe. There could always be more, of course.

    A decent recorder like Edirol R-9, Zoom H4 or Tascam DR-1 will get you a ways. Though recording an upright s probably more challenging than a grand. You may
    want to try removing the front boards to get a full sound.
     
  12. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Andrew. I gather that to mean they are at least adequately played ? Yes they are good, except no.3 which is a bit uninspired, yet has a certain sinuous charm. It is here that I seem to hear Rosza the future film composer, rather than in the other pieces which evoke Bartok's For Children and Ten Easy Pieces more than anything else.
     
  13. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I must say I prefer Rozsa the Hungarian rather than Rozsa the Hollywood star and I am happy to note there is no lack of that either!
     
  14. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    This piano has quite a good sound, actually, and is probably just as good as some lesser grands out there.

    What I did, starting from a suggestion of Alexander's (who seems not to be around too much of late) I turned the piano away from the wall, so that I have my back to the wall and the back of the piano faces the room and, whenever I record, the recorder. I then open the lid part-way (I use a wooden divider that I found in an upmarket wine case). To make it easier for me, I place the scores on the top of the keyboard lid (and use an architect's ruler to keep them from falling behind), so that there is nothing to get in the way of the hands.

    This is good for the piano, as it keeps it from any humidity there might come from the wall.

    Having a large living-room and high ceilings makes reverbation not so necessary.

    The only thing I notice is a tendency for the right channel to be louder, so that I need to reduce it a bit to obtain balance.
     
  15. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    Oh, absolutely - better than adequately! I thought your playing demonstrated an affinity for the music.
     
  16. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris,

    I know Miklos Rozsa as a film composer and music director, and never knew that he had written any piano solo works. Your recording these comprise a nice addition to the site's offerings. I enjoyed listening to all five. They are all colorful in different ways, very pleasant and definitely more modern in in their idiom.

    Not to stray too much off topic, but in the 1940s there was a genre of film music which I would call film concertos for piano and orchestra. In the 1950s they got a lot of play in radio broadcasts and at live pops concerts. I think of Hubert Bath's Cornish Rhapsody from Love Story, Charles William's Dream of Olwen from While I Live, Richard Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto from Dangerous Moonlight, and, of course, Miklos Rozsa's Spellbound Concerto from Spellbound. A latter addition in the 1960s was Leonard Pennario's Midnight on the Cliffs from Julie. All are in neo-romantic style, and it's hard to dislike any of them, but I think Rozsa's Spellbound Concerto is tops. Anyway, this is another dimension of Rozsa's composing. I'm not sure that these pieces are played now as much as they were formerly.

    David
     
  17. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I guess you skipped no.3 then :)

    I'll have to listen to that concerto then. I never realized Pennario was a composer. An enormously prolific recording artist he was.
     
  18. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I tried myself playing No. 3, but gave up trying to make sense of it!

    Rosza has a piano concerto, besides the violin one hw wrote for Heifetz and the double one, for violin and violoncello, written for Heifetz and Pitiagorsky. He was well-regarded as a composer, he was.
     
  19. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris,

    The bagattellen I missed was No. 4. So I listened to that one just now and I must say it was played well too.

    Back in the early 60s I attended a Pennario recital. He played Mozart, Chopin, Schumann, Debussy and Prokofiev. For his main encore he played his own piano solo transcription of his "Midnight on the Cliffs". I thought it was sensational! I met him backstage and he kindly autographed my program. He was very nice. I was hoping that the piano solo version would be published. I wrote to Pennario and he said that it was indeed taking a long time. I pestered the publisher. Eventually a simplified piano version became available. It was at an intermediate level as I recall. I no longer have it. The original must be a bear to play, given the huge, sweeping ongoing arpeggios in the right hand. Of course he just rippled them off given his prodigious technique. I think that original version might be obtainable now from sheet music stores. Probably few would be able to cope with it. Reminds me of Earl Wild's lush piano transcriptions of the Rachmaninoff Songs. They're amazing... but so few can do them justice.

    Here is the piano solo transcription:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UElEWl5DbM

    David
     
  20. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Richard,

    At YouTube I just watched/heard Leonard Pennario playing the Rozsa Piano Concerto. It was dedicated to Pennario who gave the premiere performance with the Milwaulkee Symphony. It does have a modern sound, in moments a bit Bartokian perhaps, yet very original and effective. Pennario was a pupil of Isabelle Vengerova who also probably terrorized students Barber, Kallir, Foss, Bernstein, Bonaventura and Graffman among others, but they all went on to have big careers. As when I attended the Pennario recital I mentioned earlier, I noticed in this video that Pennario used to sit such that his forearms, including elbows, were parallel to the floor. The wrists and hands were level as the the tops of the forearms enabling neutrally and naturally extended arms. Through his flexible wrists he allowed just a bit of down flexing of his hands by slightly raising the wrists for playing sequential chords, octave passages and molding slurs. This is exactly what I try to do, as ergonomically it's the safest way to play the piano. Pennario had it all together there.

    I'd recommend to others that they hear this Rozsa Piano Concerto if they are not already familiar with it. Being "serious music" so called, it's certainly a departure from his lush film music heard in the "Spellbound Concerto", but it reveals another facet of his genius.

    Anyway, I don't want to hijack Chris' thread here, but did want to plug Pennario playing the piano concerto.

    David
     

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