“The unseemly rapidity with which Roman Polanski’s friends lined up to support him is a demonstration of the extent to which Hollywood is isolated from the rest of the world. It’s a company town, a place where the powerful can go for months at a time without hearing anyone disagree with them about anything…”
Archives for October 11, 2009
Jascha Heifetz Plays Korngold, Rózsa, and Waxman (RCA Victor Gold Seal). I keep telling people that Miklós Rózsa, who is best known for having scored such Hollywood films as Double Indemnity and Ben-Hur, was also a first-rate classical composer, but somehow the message never seems to seep through. Instead of preaching yet another a sermon, allow me instead to direct you to Jascha Heifetz’s 1956 premiere recording of Rózsa’s Violin Concerto. I once described Rózsa’s music as “user-friendly Bartók,” and that’s not a bad way to sum up this masterly piece, whose musical language recalls the pungently folk-like modal coloration of Bartók but has an astringent romanticism all its own. Not surprisingly, Heifetz played it to the hilt, and this performance, handsomely accompanied by Walter Hendl and the Dallas Symphony, would be worth hearing even if the piece weren’t so good. It’s coupled, logically enough, with Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Heifetz-commissioned violin concerto and Franz Waxman’s “Carmen” Fantasy. Absolutely not for music-movie buffs only! (TT).
Breach. Is Chris Cooper our best character actor? That thought has occurred to me on more than one occasion, most recently after seeing him in Billy Ray’s 2007 docudrama about Robert Hanssen, the FBI agent who spent two decades peddling government secrets to the KGB. Except for the soppy score, Breach is a tremendously involving film whose makers get everything right–but in the end it is Cooper’s performance that turns a piece of well-crafted entertainment into something not unlike high art. Cooper’s Hanssen is a study in self-loathing arrogance, a fanatical zealot with something unknowably wrong at the core. Somehow I doubt that the real-life Robert Hanssen was half so interesting as the one we meet in Breach. So much the worse for real life (TT).