Premiere of Two Piano Version

Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas, duo pianos
Cynthia Millar, ondes martenot
Elmer Bernstein, conductor
The Utah Symphony



Premiere of Two Piano Version

KEMDISC 1029  |   At the Movies

Name Credit
Joshua Pierce Joshua Pierce Piano
Dorothy  Jonas Dorothy Jonas Piano
Elmer Bernstein Elmer Bernstein Conductor
 The Utah Symphony The Utah Symphony Orchestra
Cynthia Millar Cynthia Millar Ondes Martenot


Hungarian-born concert and film composer Miklos Rózsa collaborated only once with Alfred Hitchcock, on the David O. Selznick-produced Spellbound (1945). In fact, the word “collaboration” may be an overstatement: according to Rózsa’s witty autobiography A Double Life, the men met only twice during the entire production.

The concerto’s percussiveness manifests itself up front, with an introductory timpani motto. The main matter of the sonata-form first movement-marked Allegro energico-is tough, no-nonsense stuff. It has the grim bustle of Rózsa’s film noir scores, now in a pronounced Hungarian idiom. The rhetorical devices are sharply marked and heavily stressed. The pianist’s martellato passagework is echoed at one point even by the string players, who briefly slap their instruments with their bows.

The second movement, an Adagio, offers some respite. The piano writing sparkles more gently, and there’s more allowance for woodwind filigree. The movement is something of a Hungarian nocturne, though a nocturne at a rather busy time of evening; even so, it’s not still and sinister enough to call to mind Bartók’s “night music” style. The last movement, Vigoroso, returns to the aggressive mood of the beginning, but now it’s even more frantic, even occasionally brutal. Heavy ostinatos and flashy runs up and down the keyboard characterize the pianist’s part. It’s very much a darker, angrier version of the finale of Ravel’s G-major concerto, with frenzied, displaced accents substituting for Ravel’s jazzy jittering.

This recording features the world premiere of the SPELLBOUND Concerto re-written for two pianos  and orchestra. This was created by Miklos Rozsa for the duo piano team of Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas and was premiered by these soloists with the Utah Symphony Orchestra conducted by Elmer Bernstein.


1 Overture (From “The World, The Flesh, And The Devil”) The Utah Symphony, conducted by Elmer Bernstein


2 New England Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra Joshua Pierce, Dorothy Jonas


3 Overture (From “Because Of Him”) The Utah Symphony, conducted by Elmer Bernstein


4 Spellbound Concerto (From “Spellbound”) Joshua Pierce, Dorothy Jonas, Cynthia Millar