The chamber ensemble version of the Spellbound Concerto is actually a completely different work from the popular orchestral warhorse that has been so often played and recorded with and without piano and theremin. Lydia Kavina reintroduced this work in New York City back around 1999 or 2000. Kavina's performance was later recorded and eventually issued in 2008 on Mode Records 199.
From the album notes by Olivia Mattis: "The smaller version was arranged by Alphonso [sic] D'Artega in 1946 and premiered in New York's Town Hall on November 30 of that year. The performers were Lucie Bigelow Rosen, theremin . . . and the Koutzen Quartet. This version of the piece is written for the same forces as the great masterwork for theremin, Bohuslav Martinu's Fantasia (1944), which Rosen played on the same Town Hall program, and which Kavina played in the work's world premiere recording."
The piece, which is scored for theremin, piano, oboe, and string quartet, lasts six minutes in the recorded performance. The scoring is actually more truly concertante than the popular version: the theremin is featured throughout and carries the romantic themes as well as the "suspense" music. The ill-fated ski-run music is the centerpiece of this arrangement. It plays a larger role here than in the big concerto and sounds quite different in the reduced scoring. I do like the piece. It's refreshing to hear this familiar music stripped down to a leaner aspect.
From the concert performance I recall something not mentioned in the album notes. This score was discovered in the Caramoor archives at Katonah, New York. Caramoor is an elegant country house in the style of the Venetian Renaissance. Today it is the seat of popular summer concert series. Caramoor is not far from Norwalk. Caramoor was owned and developed by the Walter Rosen and Lucie Rosen. They were notable art collectors, who enriched Rosen House with an impressive collection. And they established the performing arts tradition that endures to the present day.
Lucie Bigelow Rosen (1890-1968) was a musician and a notable advocate of the theremin. She possessed an instrument specially built for her by Leon Theremin himself. I'm sure that Lucie Rosen was responsible for commissioning the Spellbound arrangement. According the the album notes, this arrangement is published by Hal Leonard. See the Caramoor website for more about Lucie Rosen, including a video demonstration of her instrument. Alfonso D'Artega (1907-1998) was a Mexican-born and Russian-trained conductor, actor, and songwriter whose career embraced both classical and popular idioms. Among other things he wrote the three-note chime motif that identified NBC. An exact contemporary of Miklos Rozsa, his career seems to have intersected with the Hungarian master's on this one occasion. Notes by John Fitzpatrick
The score is held in the Caramoor Archives.