Nothing mechanical about Eugene Zador’s Sinfonia Technica

Eugene Zador has a remarkable CV on — ninety-two credits for film scores and orchestrations. And all uncredited. Zador emigrated from Hungary in 1939, and like his compatriot, Miklós Rózsa ended up in Hollywood. In fact, Zador orchestrated most of Rózsa’s best-loved scores.

But his work at MGM was his day job. He saved his name for his classical scores. Like other Hollywood transplants, such as Korngold and Rózsa, Zador never ventured too far from Post-Romantic tonality. He did, however, manage to keep the cinematic style out of his music.

The Music for Clarinet and Strings is a 1970 work commissioned by the St. Louis Symphony. Clarinetist Pál Sólyomi delivers a lithe and animated interpretation of Zador’s score. Zador often drew on Hungarian folk music. The finale marked Alla zingaresca, does indeed have a gypsy-like quality to it.

And the 1967 Trombone Concerto does as well. Zador wrote, “Flavoured by Hungarian folklore, the piece conveys a variety of moods in each movement.” Zador’s Hungarian flavoring is used sparingly. The work (to me) has a more Mid-Century Modern feel to it. Trombonist András Fejér concentrates on the beauty of the melodic line, making this a most engaging performance.

The 1931 Sinfonia Technica represents Zador experimenting with industrial-inspired music, which was all the rage. Despite movement titles like “Bridge,” “Telegraph Poles,” “Water Works,” and “Factory,” the work has a somewhat soft focus.

In many ways, it reminds me of Bohuslav Martinu compositions written around the same time. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

Eugene Zador: Sinfonia Technica
Music for Clarinet and Strings; Trombone Concerto
András Fejér, trombone; Pál Sólyomi, clarinet
Budapest Symphony Orchestra MAV; Mariusz Smolij, conductor
Naxos 8.574108

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