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ReVIOLAtion. Viola Works

Krzysztof Komendarek-Tymendorf

Classical - Released November 27, 2020 | Naxos

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Music for Viola & Chamber Orchestra

Timothy Ridout

Concertos - Released February 28, 2020 | Claves Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
The wealth of music composed for the viola in the 20th century almost lets one forget the dearth of it in the 19th, which brought forth only two solo works of note: Hector Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, a concerto commissioned by Paganini that sidelines the viola so much he refused to play it; and Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote, in which the solo viola is relegated to the part of the Don’s sidekick Sancho Panza. Sidelined and sidekicked – the viola’s fate seemed a fulfilment of the oft-quoted line from Quantz’s sometime flute treatise that “the viola is largely regarded among musicians as being of little significance”. It was only really in the 20th century that composers realised that the viola’s status of an in-between instrument could actually be to its advantage. It’s bigger than a violin, but tuned like a cello, and is both warmer in tone than the former, and much more agile than the latter. The viola then had the good fortune to become the preferred instrument of several important composers. Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) briefly toyed with going professional on it; Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) went the whole hog and made a living from it in the Amar Quartet and as a soloist; and Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) too was a violist, though he kept his public performing activities to the piano and the podium. The viola was also lucky in having several fine virtuosi in the 20th century, most notably Lionel Tertis (1876- 1975) and William Primrose (1904-1982). Primrose had commissioned Bartók’s (unfinished) Viola Concerto in 1945, and it was for him that Britten wrote his Lachrymae for viola and piano in 1950. This is a series of “reflections”, i.e. variations, on a song by the Elizabethan composer John Dowland entitled “If my complaints could passion move”. The song’s melody is heard in the bass line after a few bars in the first variation, but only becomes properly recognisable at the end of the tenth and last. Meanwhile, another Dowland song has also infiltrated the texture – variation No. 6 refers back to Dowland’s more famous song “Flow my tears”, which had originated in his “Lachrymae pavan” – hence Britten’s title. He composed it during a break in work on his opera Billy Budd, and gave the first performance with Primrose at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1950. Britten then scored the work for viola solo and string orchestra in the spring of 1976, just months before he died. © Chris Walton/Claves Records
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Weinberg : Complete Sonatas for Solo Viola

Viacheslav Dinerchtein

Classical - Released July 19, 2019 | Solo Musica

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Bach : 3 Sonatas for viola [da gamba] & harpsichord, BWV 1027-1029

Antoine Tamestit

Classical - Released August 23, 2019 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
Whatever it takes, so long as it sounds remarkable. A viola da gamba composition played on a viola da braccia, or Bratsche in German. Such feats are commonplace for Antoine Tamestit, and here he overcomes the challenge with the same sense of indulgence that we have come to expect. In fact, the musician is an expert in adapting baroque classics. Tamestit transcribes compositions with tactfulness and intelligence, like in his two Suites for Solo Cello by Jean-Sébastien Bach. This time, the viola player is accompanied by his accomplice Masato Suzuki on harpsichord for the recording of the Three Sonatas for viola da gamba, BMV 1027-1029. Playing the music we like on an instrument we love, isn’t that what taking pleasure in music is about? There are incidentally several versions of the Sonata in G major, BMV 1027: a trio sonata of two transverse flutes and perhaps even an organ. So why not the viola? The record contains three scores in reverse order to their catalogue numbers. It’s a pleasure to hear the Vivace under the viola players agile fingers and ductile phrasing. The instrument’s grain is warmly transferred through his bow thanks to his natural approach to playing. The balance between the two musicians is a delight, particularly in the arrangement of the aria “Ergiesse dich reichlich” of the cantata Wo sol ich flihen hin, a pleasant surprise that is slipped in between sonatas BMV 1029 and 1028. The melody is fluidly transferred between the players and demonstrates the complexity of the composition’s exceptional contrasts. Of course, the viola provides a larger ambitus with seven strings and its ability to play deeper notes. Tamestit and Suzuki deliver here a disarmingly graceful rendition that lacks no gravity. © Elsa Siffert/Qobuz
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Berlioz : Harold en Italie (Live) - Les Nuits d'été

Les Siècles

Classical - Released January 18, 2019 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
A new aesthetic calls for new forms: such is the challenge the composer set for himself in the two works presented here. In Les Nuits d’été, Berlioz pioneered, well before Mahler and Ravel, a song cycle for voice and orchestra. In Harold in Italy, scored for large orchestra and solo viola, he experimented with the symphonic genre. These period-instrument performances by Les Siècles, led by François-Xavier Roth, with violist Tabea Zimmermann, also feature Stéphane Degout in the vocal cycle, heard here in the composer’s own version for baritone. File under: out of the ordinary. © harmonia mundi
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Hindemith : Complete Sonatas for Viola Solo

Ruth Killius

Chamber Music - Released April 13, 2018 | NoMadMusic

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 étoiles de Classica
It goes without saying (but let's say it anyway) that an album of the complete recordings of Hindemith's sonatas for solo viola doesn’t have massive mainstream appeal. And yet there is so much joy in this rigorous and yet free-spirited music, made in the image of a composer whose Addams Family appearance hid a puckish spirit, not to mention a love of model railways and good eating. The four sonatas on offer here are given in reverse chronological order of composition: 1937, 1923, 1922 and 1919. It was in this last year, 1919, when the publisher Schott decided to sign the young composer of 24 on the spot: a remarkable idea, even though his editors could never keep pace with Hindemith's galloping successes. In this first sonata, we find all the components of the master's art: formal and counter-punctual rigour, irresistible rhythms, always a dash of irony and self-mockery, and an utterly splendid sense of theme. Bach was his model, of course, at least in the structure and pattern of the discourse, although this music remained completely modern, and indeed often far ahead of its own time. A note on the final sonata of 1937: Hindemith recorded it himself, taking a few liberties with the printed score. Viola player Ruth Killius has taken it upon herself to "restore" the original, taking some liberties of her own, following Hindemith, who loved to experiment in the spur of the moment… Killius, a disciple of Ulrich Koch and Kim Kashkashian, is a regular at – in no particular order – the Salzburg Festival, Frans Brüggen's Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, the Diapasons d’Or and the Gramophone Awards, and a regular performer of Beethoven, Elliott Carter, Isang Yun, Bruckner and Bartók; and with husband Thomas Zehetmair she founded the Zehetmair Quartet, which travels the world and plays all sorts of repertoires. © SM/Qobuz
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Vieuxtemps : Complete Works for Viola & Piano

Timothy Ridout

Chamber Music - Released February 24, 2017 | Champs Hill Records

Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique
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Bel Canto. The Voice of the Viola

Antoine Tamestit

Duets - Released February 24, 2017 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Here the diva is the viola! How did the viola move from the status of ‘dramatic contralto among instrumental voices’ (to quote the critic Henri Blanchard) to ‘a character of nobility and languor’, according to Georg Kastner’s treatise on instrumentation (1837)? Going well beyond mere historical interest, this album answers the question by unveiling the charms of a repertory that delighted Parisian concert halls and salons throughout the 19th century. It tells the story of an instrument that at last emerged from the violin’s shadow thanks to immense virtuosos; and now the talent of two great musicians of our time brings back to life these pieces which offer much more than the exquisite languors of bel canto. The diva is the viola; its servant is named Antoine Tamestit. (Text from harmonia mundi label)
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English Delight

Adrien La Marca

Chamber Music - Released January 22, 2016 | La Dolce Volta

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles Classica
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Paul Hindemith : Bratsche !

Antoine Tamestit

Concertos - Released December 2, 2013 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Exceptional Sound Recording
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Benjamin Britten : Reflections (Pieces for Violin or Viola & Piano)

Matthew Jones

Chamber Music - Released November 5, 2013 | Naxos

Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
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Musique pour alto et piano

Philip Dukes

Chamber Music - Released July 1, 2013 | Naxos

Booklet
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Suite pour alto et orchestre

Hong-Mei Xiao

Classical - Released June 3, 2013 | Naxos

Booklet
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Johann Sebastian Bach : Suites pour violoncelle n° 1, 3, 5 (transcriptions pour alto)

Antoine Tamestit

Classical - Released November 20, 2012 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica

Schubert : Sonata "Arpeggione" D 821 / Tchaïkovski : Variations Rococo / Bruch : Romanze Op. 85

Maxim Rysanov

Concertos - Released August 2, 2011 | BIS

Booklet
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Much like its larger cousin the double bass, the viola has long struggled to establish itself as a solo instrument. While in the 20th and 21st centuries, many composers have come to bestow rightful respect upon the instrument with numerous solo, chamber, and concerto compositions, the same did not hold earlier in the instrument's history. To fill the gap, violists have necessarily taken to arranging and transcribing. The question of worthiness then turns to individual listeners. This BIS disc opens with an arrangement of Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata for viola and string orchestra. In this instance, the curiosity lies not so much with the use of the viola -- which has much in common with the bygone arpeggione -- but the choice of string orchestra. Despite the quality of the transcription, much of the intimacy inherent in an instrumental duo seems to be lost here. Violist Maxim Rysanov's playing is technically polished, with a clean, warm sound. His interpretation leans decidedly toward the heavily romanticized but does not cross the line into distasteful. Second up is Rysanov's own transcription of Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations. Here, the orchestral part remains untouched, and only changes to the register are made in the solo part. Some of the octave changes are a bit jarring, and sometimes send the viola high onto the A-string where its tone is somewhat less rich. The disc concludes with the only original work for viola, Max Bruch's Romance in F major. Not surprisingly, the viola sounds its most natural and comfortable in this work, playing to its strengths of tone and character.© TiVo
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Concertos pour alto & pour violoncelle

Grigori Zhislin

Classical - Released November 4, 2009 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording
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Sonates pour alto et piano

Roberto Diaz

Chamber Music - Released April 27, 2010 | Naxos

Booklet
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Sonates anglaises pour alto

Martin Outram

Chamber Music - Released March 18, 2010 | Naxos

Booklet
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L'Alto virtuose

Roger Chase

Chamber Music - Released February 23, 2010 | Naxos

Booklet
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Musique soviétique pour alto

Igor Fedotov

Chamber Music - Released February 23, 2010 | Naxos

Booklet