Miklós Rózsa

Miklos Rozsa: A Musical Autobiography, Vol. 1 (1937-1949)

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This rather expensive Belgian release is a DVD transcription of a Citadel Records LP, the centerpiece of which was Miklos Rozsa's "12 Choruses From Ben-Hur and King of Kings" performed by the Brigham Young University A Cappella Choir. Between those two movies, there is an abundance of memorable music for massed voices that has been recorded and performed around the world for more than 40 years. The Ben-Hur music holds up rather better than that from King of Kings, though the latter is hardly disposable, with gorgeous pieces such as "The Nativity" and "The Prayer of Our Lord." The overall performance gives greater dignity to the material than the original soundtrack recordings, and the choir throws itself into the music with a beguiling, seductive reverence that more than compensates for the relative lack of majesty compared to the original recordings' full orchestral accompaniment. The second half of this disc consists of Rozsa's music for the 1967 George Pal-produced feature The Power, and it couldn't contrast more with the preceding material of unsettling instrumental music depicting the twisted, distorted world in which the movie's protagonists suddenly find themselves. Much of the music will be familiar from earlier Rozsa scores, going all the way back to The Thief of Bagdad (1940) in the case of "Death in the Centrifuge," but some of it is dressed up in unusual percussion scoring and what sounds like a hammer dulcimer; these are the original, unmixed studio tracks from the film itself and the playing is spot-on perfect. The audio quality is excellent throughout and the annotation is well written. The 24-dollar list price is high, but the material is unusual and attractive enough to justify the purchase for serious fans.