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Raymond Burley

The Miklós Rózsa Collection

cover of The Miklós Rózsa Collection

released 2008   BSX Records

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BUYSOUNDTRAX Records release THE MIKLÓS RÓZSA COLLECTION: MUSIC FOR GUITAR. The album features music composed for motion pictures by Miklós Rózsa, arranged for guitar by Gregg Nestor, performed by Gregg Nestor, Raymond Burley and William Kanengiser, augmented by Francisco Castillo on Oboe and Carole Kleister-Castillo on Violin.

In 1994 Raymond Burley had the pleasure of playing to Miklós Rozsa in his Hollywood home.

THE MIKLÓS RÓZSA COLLECTION: MUSIC FOR GUITAR presents the music of Miklós Rózsa in an entirely new light, adapting the pieces for two guitars, in arrangements based faithfully on the composer's original scores by internationally acclaimed guitarist Gregg Nestor. The collection contains selections from EL CID, THAT HAMILTON WOMAN, YOUNG BESS, MADAME BOVARY, A WOMAN'S VENGEANCE, PROVIDENCE, BLOOD ON THE SUN, GREEN FIRE, MOONFLEET, TIP ON A DEAD JOCKEY, LYDIA and CRISIS. In addition to selections from Rózsa's large filmography, this release contains two classical works, Kaleidoscope, Op. 19c, composed for his children in 1946 and his Sonata For Guitar, Op. 42, composed in 1986.

Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1907, composer Miklós Rózsa studied the violin from the age of 5. While living in London in 1935, Rózsa was hired by legendary producer Alexander Korda to score his film, KNIGHT WITHOUT ARMOR. Later, while composing the music for another Korda production, THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, Rózsa moved to California, where he remained for the rest of his life. Throughout his film career, he worked in many genres but distinguished himself writing music for the film noirs of the 1940's and the great costume epics of the 1950's and 1960's. A classically trained composer, Rózsa was well known for his dedication to researching the musical history of the time periods of the films he worked on. His filmography includes music composed for films such as THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, THE JUNGLE BOOK, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, SPELLBOUND, THE LOST WEEKEND, QUO VADIS, IVANHOE, JULIUS CAESAR, KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE, BEN-HUR, KING OF KINGS, EL CID, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD and TIME AFTER TIME, among others.

Gregg Nestor has built a strong following for his abilities as soloist, accompanist and arranger. He has recorded and broadcast in Holland, Belgium, Spain and for the BBC in London. Many works arranged by Gregg for solo/duo guitars or with various ensembles have been published.

For THE MIKLÓS RÓZSA COLLECTION: MUSIC FOR GUITAR, Gregg was allowed access to the composer's personal archives. The results are arrangements as concise and accurate as possible to the composer's original intentions.

William Kanengiser is known worldwide for his talents as a soloist and chamber musician. Also known for his expertise as an arranger, William has transcribed extensively for the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet.

THE MIKLÓS RÓZSA COLLECTION: MUSIC FOR GUITAR is a limited edition release of 1000 units. The first 100 copies purchased through BUYSOUNDTRAX will be autographed by Artist Gregg Nestor.
Review taken from 'Music From the Movies' magazine (USA)

Stripping an orchestral piece of music right down to its bare essentials and re-casting the voices could be seen as sacrilege by some. The music of Georges Delerue has been re-interpreted in various guises a number of times in recent years, and quite successfully so; now it's the turn of another late great composer, Miklós Rózsa. Here BSX Records present selections from some of the Hungarian maestro's most famous film scores, but re-arranged for guitar.

While his major epics required something of a bombastic approach, the composer was equally well known for the stark quality of many of his compositions. With that in mind it is perhaps fitting to scale some of these pieces right down to a single instrument, or indeed three as the guitar is joined in places by oboe and violin. Gregg Nestor performs and arranges, along with fellow guitarists Raymond Burley and William Kanengiser, while Francisco Castillo and Carole Kleiser-Castillo provide the oboe and violin lines respectively. Nestor was responsible for getting Rózsa to finally write a piece for the instrument back in 1986, and the resulting 'Sonata for Guitar, Op. 42' provides one of the opening selections on the disc. It's a captivating work and reveals the composer's adeptness – with a little help from Nestor – deftly creating a flowing piece in three movements that would fool you into believing Rózsa had been composing for guitar his entire career. Preceding the 'Sonata' is a wonderful concert work titled 'Kaleidoscope'. Originally prepared for small orchestra, the six musical vignettes work very successfully on guitar and are full of colour, perkiness and charm.

From there we move into film territory and a varied collection of ideas, some of which work better than others. The El Cid selection is a good example as the 'Overture' sounds frankly ridiculous – though the castanet-like fingering in places is clever, while the 'Love Theme' is beautifully done, with the help of the supporting woodwind and strings. The remaining film score examples each work fairly well as they're largely based on rather more restrained and lyrical entries, such as love themes and waltzes. The selection from Madame Bovary ('Le Passpied de Vaubiessard') is a highlight, as is 'The Boat House Waltz' from A Woman's Vengeance and the 'Suite' from Lydia. As with El Cid, the theme from Green Fire and the Crisis 'Suite' are a bit too rambunctious and overplayed, but perhaps that's just a personal preference for softer guitar music over wild flamenco strumming! Of course the latter originally featured two guitars, so it acts as a good album closer.

So all in all the music of Miklós Rózsa is well appointed on the guitar and fans of the composer should find much to enjoy and indeed re-discover on this album. If the guitar is not for you then of course steer clear; however, it really is a pleasant listen on the whole with the non-film music entries being the highlights oddly enough.

Michael Beek

Review taken from

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: here

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

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

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.

updated: 14 years ago