Violin Concertos by Erich Korngold and Miklos Rozsa

Matthew Trusler (violin)

Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra

Yasuo Shinozaki (conductor)

TPT: 68’06”Trusler Cover


reviewed by Neville Cohn

Heifetz, the violinists’ violinist, had in life so glittering a reputation that his merest

association with this or that concerto would instantly make whatever work it was a focus of international attention. And so it was with the violin concertos by two composers both of whose names, incidentally, are inextricably linked to music for the motion picture industry in Hollywood.

Matthew Trusler is featured soloist in these two works – and what a splendid advocate he is for these concertos. With unfailing beauty and clarity of tone – and ushering in and tapering phrases in a consistently musicianly way – Trusler gives irrefutable evidence of his right to a position well to the forefront of living violinists.

Trusler uses a bow that formerly belonged to Heifetz – and he is worthy of it; his bowing technique is near-flawless. He is no less worthy of his superb Stradivari fiddle that dates back to 1711. In Trusler’s hands, it sings with a voice that caresses the ear.

But for all the persuasiveness of Trusler’s playing – and the concerto’s imaginative scoring – I remain unconvinced of the worth of the concerto by Rozsa. The latter is, of course, best known for his many fine scores for Hollywood movies. And it is difficult – near-irresistible, in fact – to listen to this work without thinking how suitable much of it might have been as background music for one or another classy 1940s film noir.

Intriguingly, there are moments in the concerto that sound like a graceful tribute to Bela Bartok; Rosza was, after all, also Hungarian and an unabashed admirer of his great compatriot. Throughout, Trusler is near-faultless.

Korngold’s concerto, however, is in an altogether different, much higher category and Trusler makes the most of soaring lines in the first movement. From first note to last, he brings extraordinary powers of expressiveness to his playing with notes invariably clothed in tone of the most appealing kind. Throughout, there’s pinpoint intonation.

I particularly admired the finale with its fleeting obeisance to Copland in rodeo mood to which Trusler responds with fantastic agility and accuracy.

Had the shade of Heifetz hovered over the recording session, I rather imagine he’d have given it a nod of approval, not least for Trusler’s immaculate presentation of three miniatures that Heifetz used to offer as encores. Trusler is near-faultless in the ubiquitous Jeanie with the Light brown Hair and Ponce’s Estrelita.

Recorded quality is excellent.

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