Rumon Gamba / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

The Film Music of Miklos Rozsa

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The Chandos label has issued some fine recordings of classic film music, and this release featuring scores by Miklós Rózsa is especially nice. The BBC Philharmonic under Rumon Gamba outdoes itself; the MediaCity sound is superb; and the notes by Andrew Knowles are unusually detailed. But the real attraction is the music of Rózsa himself, which is well represented by these four scores that cover a two-decade period. What's striking is how timeless his scores seem. The earliest of the four, The Thief of Baghdad, was finished in 1940 but has any number of features that, with very slight tweaking, would make it suitable for a film released today. Rózsa combined percussion-heavy sounds influenced by Bartók and Stravinsky with expansive pure Romantic melodies for the scenes of love and sentiment, a combination unlike anything being done in concert music at the time. The mix had unusual flexibility, enabling Rózsa to evoke the swashbuckling Thief of Baghdad, the still more exotic Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, the dramatic adventure of Sahara, and the epic Ben Hur, a film that truly would not be imaginable without its score, all without having to depart from his basic idea. It is not formulaic but rather original enough to encompass many strands of film in the middle 20th century, and there's a great deal of satisfying listening to be had here for film music fans.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Suite from The Thief of Bagdad
1 2:42
2 2:44
3 4:01
4 1:55
5 1:44
6 3:54
7 2:45
Suite from Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book
8 5:28
9 3:42
10 2:15
11 3:27
12 4:28
13 1:53
14 3:55
15 1:02
16 2:28
17 2:31
18 7:50
Suite from Ben-Hur
19 3:45
20 3:11
21 5:16
22 2:37
23 3:06
24 3:23
blue highlight denotes track pick