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Classical - Released January 23, 2009 | Sony Classical

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Unusual Suspects
Vocal purists may object to transcribing songs for voice and piano by Schubert, Schumann, and Mendelssohn for viola and piano, since the originals are perfect in themselves. There is no reason, though, to deny instrumentalists the opportunity to avail themselves of these glorious melodies, especially when the transcriptions are properly reverent and the performances are appropriately lyrical. And so it is here in this Sony disc, Without Words, by German violist Nils Mönkemeyer and English pianist Nicholas Rimmer. They open the disc with a soulful account of Schubert's "Arpeggione" Sonata that rivals Yuri Bashmet's classic recording, and then move into the meat of the program: five songs each by Mendelssohn and Schubert, flanking six songs by Schumann. Each one is lovelier than the last. With his rich but focused tone and singing legato phrasing, Mönkemeyer delivers readings of undoubted sincerity and surpassing beauty. Examples include his graceful account of Mendelssohn's Schilflied, his glowing account of Schumann's Mondnacht, or, for the pièce de résistance, his luminous account of Schubert's Du bist die Ruh. Admirably supported with strength and sympathy by pianist Rimmer, and brilliantly recorded in cool but deep and vivid digital sound, this disc may not convert the most recalcitrant vocal purists, but general audiences are likely to enjoy it enormously. © TiVo
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Classical - Released August 11, 2017 | Sony Music Classical Local

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
There are many more great violists today - among which we of course find Niels Mönkemeyer – than there are famous viola concertos. Arguably that’s always been so, but the outstanding musicians said to have played the viola throughout history – Torelli, Bach, Stamitz, Mozart, Paganini, Respighi, Hindemith, Britten – were all better known as composers. At some point full time violinists Lionel Tertis and William Primrose popped up, endowed with massive viola skills and willing to use them in public. They set new standards for the instrument and soon noticed: if we just play Telemann, Hummel, Stamitz, Berlioz (thank you, Harold) and Vanhal up and down, we’ll never put an end to viola jokes. They may not have made the viola joke a thing of the past but they got the ball rolling by commissioning new viola concertos from, apparently, anyone they found in the front pages of their phonebooks: Adler, Bax, Bartók, Bowen, Bridge, Britten, Bloch sure enough, and began to churn them out with greater regularity. It is this late viola-activity that pushes the viola’s solo and orchestra repertoire well into the 20th century. Walton’s Concerto for Viola and Orchestra is one of those gems, even if neither composer nor concerto ever attained anything like the reputation they probably deserve. It’s hard to say why exactly that is, but perhaps it’s because Walton (1902-1983) doesn’t fit comfortably into our pre-perceived categories of style. Its commissioning violist, Lionel Tertis at all and declined the world-premiering honors: “The innovations in [Walton’s] musical language, which now seem so logical and so truly in the mainstream of music, then struck me as far-fetched.” But he didn’t refuse without suggesting a famous viola-playing modernist to play it in his stead: Paul Hindemith, who premiered it on October 3rd, 1929. In 1961 Walton revised his concerto, making the scoring for winds more economical and adding the harp. It is this version that Walton preferred and it is in this version that you will hear Nils Mönkemeyer perform on this disc. Max Bruch became increasingly bitter when he realised that he was going to be a one-hit wonder: His first, 1866 Violin Concerto had proved to eclipse all his other works, including his subsequent – by all impassioned accounts equally excellent – violin concertos. Well, come to think of it, maybe he was a two-hit wonder: His 1880 “Adagio on two Hebrew Melodies for Cello and Orchestra with Harp, op. 47 ” aka. Kol Nidrei proved to be pretty popular too. Kol Nidrei has won the hearts of cellists and listeners the world over, since its creation. And every so often it attracts violists, too. Adapting Kol Nidrei for that instrument is pretty straight forward, since the cello part can be taken by the viola pretty much as it is, and Nils Mönkemeyer has dashed off a version for his own use. Together with the transcribed Kol Nidrei , the 1911 Romance for Viola and Orchestra, pairs as a nice little, achingly beautiful quasi-viola-concerto in the late-high romantic, melodic style.“It is music to listen to on your knees.” said one commentator about Pärt’s Fratres (1977). Frantic and yet hovering in place with perfect stillness, it is one of the most mesmerizing compositions by Arvo Pärt. Combining these divergent characteristics into a seamless whole is the hallmark of Pärt’s “tintinnabuli” minimalism. The version for viola, string orchestra and (subtle) percussion is among the most recent additions, written and premiered in 2008.
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Classical - Released April 30, 2021 | ECM New Series

Hi-Res Booklet
"Anajikon", the second ECM album after "Music for piano and string quartet", by Athens-born and Munich-based Konstantia Gourzi, incorporates her chamber and orchestral music of the past decade. The composer also conducts the Lucerne Academy Orchestra here: "I see composing and conducting as a whole, as an inseparable relationship", she says. Gourzi is particularly concerned with making connections between the arts, which also relates to the question of her own artistic identity and the influence of her origins. In Gourzi's sound language, elements of different musical traditions repeatedly merge, and East and West enter into a dialogue. This album presents three of her compositions: her third String Quartet, "Anajikon", her orchestral piece Ny-el (commissioned by the Lucerne Festival, in August 2016 with the orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy) as well as Hommage a Mozart, three Dialogues. Her works are performed on this new recording by Nils Mönkemeyer (viola); William Youn (piano), the Lucerne Academy Orchestra and the Minguet Quartett. "Anajikon" is preceded by the album "Music for piano and string quartet", which presented the composer's work for the first time. UK magazine Gramophone described the album as "An absorbing introduction to an eminently worthwhile composer". © ECM New Series
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Classical - Released March 5, 2021 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet
Since the viola is currently considered an instrument for soloist in its own right (these days, in the early 21st century) and no longer an auxiliary to fill out the middle range within an ensemble, its thin repertoire is sorely felt. For example, of the five hundred concertos composed by Vivaldi for the most diverse instruments, not one is dedicated to the viola. Only the viola d'amore comes close in terms of its tessitura, but its tuning and the presence of sympathetic strings make it very different from the viola. Violists therefore generally resort to transcription if they want to access the repertoire of their fellow violinists or cellists. This is the project proposed here by the German violist Nils Mönkemeyer. Born in 1978, he studied violin in the city of Bremen before moving on to the viola, not an exceptional path in those days.His new album is dedicated to Italy, with various arrangements of concertos for bassoon and cello by Vivaldi, and pieces by Rolla and Tartini. The real discovery of this programme is Niccolo Paganini's Sonata per la Grand'Viola. Paganini, we note, was also a virtuoso violist. The high-wire virtuosity of this work is enhanced in this recording by a slow cadence imagined by this German Paganini. Mönkemeyer knows how to capture the imagination, the technique and the codes of his distant role model, but does so using a radically modern language. The effect is stunning. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 5, 2021 | Sony Classical

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Since the viola is currently considered an instrument for soloist in its own right (these days, in the early 21st century) and no longer an auxiliary to fill out the middle range within an ensemble, its thin repertoire is sorely felt. For example, of the five hundred concertos composed by Vivaldi for the most diverse instruments, not one is dedicated to the viola. Only the viola d'amore comes close in terms of its tessitura, but its tuning and the presence of sympathetic strings make it very different from the viola. Violists therefore generally resort to transcription if they want to access the repertoire of their fellow violinists or cellists. This is the project proposed here by the German violist Nils Mönkemeyer. Born in 1978, he studied violin in the city of Bremen before moving on to the viola, not an exceptional path in those days.His new album is dedicated to Italy, with various arrangements of concertos for bassoon and cello by Vivaldi, and pieces by Rolla and Tartini. The real discovery of this programme is Niccolo Paganini's Sonata per la Grand'Viola. Paganini, we note, was also a virtuoso violist. The high-wire virtuosity of this work is enhanced in this recording by a slow cadence imagined by this German Paganini. Mönkemeyer knows how to capture the imagination, the technique and the codes of his distant role model, but does so using a radically modern language. The effect is stunning. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Concertos - Released January 14, 2011 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released April 13, 2018 | Sony Music Classical Local

Hi-Res Booklet
The liner notes aren't very clear, so here are the details of this most singular recording, which focuses especially on Bach. Violist Nils Mönkemeyer and lutist Andreas Arend have chosen to perform, in a single "double" suite – BWV 995 and 1011 – the two preludes to the suite, and then the two allemandes etc. – in the knowledge that the BWV 995 is transcription for solo lute made by Bach himself of his own Suite for Cello n°5 BWV 1011… But here, we hear BWV 995 re-written by our two soloists, for viol and lute. As for the Suite BWV 1011, originally written for solo cello, Mönkemeyer has given it over to solo viola, without making any changes to the discourse. At every turn, movement by movement, the juxtaposition shows off the "developed" harmony that Bach gives to the lute, more inferred than really written out, just as in the version for the solo instrument. Mönkemeyer and Arend round off the programme with other examples of the very ancient and widely-practised baroque-era habit of transcription, with pieces by Robert de Visée and Michel Lambert (who were themselves models for Bach when he wrote "à la française") and the famous lutist Leopold Weiss, a friend of Bach's, whose Rondeau was long thought to be a work of Bach's before musicologists credited its true composer. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released April 8, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released April 8, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released August 13, 2009 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released August 14, 2015 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released April 30, 2021 | ECM New Series

Booklet
"Anajikon", the second ECM album after "Music for piano and string quartet", by Athens-born and Munich-based Konstantia Gourzi, incorporates her chamber and orchestral music of the past decade. The composer also conducts the Lucerne Academy Orchestra here: "I see composing and conducting as a whole, as an inseparable relationship", she says. Gourzi is particularly concerned with making connections between the arts, which also relates to the question of her own artistic identity and the influence of her origins. In Gourzi's sound language, elements of different musical traditions repeatedly merge, and East and West enter into a dialogue. This album presents three of her compositions: her third String Quartet, "Anajikon", her orchestral piece Ny-el (commissioned by the Lucerne Festival, in August 2016 with the orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy) as well as Hommage a Mozart, three Dialogues. Her works are performed on this new recording by Nils Mönkemeyer (viola); William Youn (piano), the Lucerne Academy Orchestra and the Minguet Quartett. "Anajikon" is preceded by the album "Music for piano and string quartet", which presented the composer's work for the first time. UK magazine Gramophone described the album as "An absorbing introduction to an eminently worthwhile composer". © ECM New Series
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Classical - Released August 16, 2013 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released August 15, 2014 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released August 14, 2015 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released August 11, 2017 | Sony Music Classical Local

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There are many more great violists today - among which we of course find Niels Mönkemeyer – than there are famous viola concertos. Arguably that’s always been so, but the outstanding musicians said to have played the viola throughout history – Torelli, Bach, Stamitz, Mozart, Paganini, Respighi, Hindemith, Britten – were all better known as composers. At some point full time violinists Lionel Tertis and William Primrose popped up, endowed with massive viola skills and willing to use them in public. They set new standards for the instrument and soon noticed: if we just play Telemann, Hummel, Stamitz, Berlioz (thank you, Harold) and Vanhal up and down, we’ll never put an end to viola jokes. They may not have made the viola joke a thing of the past but they got the ball rolling by commissioning new viola concertos from, apparently, anyone they found in the front pages of their phonebooks: Adler, Bax, Bartók, Bowen, Bridge, Britten, Bloch sure enough, and began to churn them out with greater regularity. It is this late viola-activity that pushes the viola’s solo and orchestra repertoire well into the 20th century. Walton’s Concerto for Viola and Orchestra is one of those gems, even if neither composer nor concerto ever attained anything like the reputation they probably deserve. It’s hard to say why exactly that is, but perhaps it’s because Walton (1902-1983) doesn’t fit comfortably into our pre-perceived categories of style. Its commissioning violist, Lionel Tertis at all and declined the world-premiering honors: “The innovations in [Walton’s] musical language, which now seem so logical and so truly in the mainstream of music, then struck me as far-fetched.” But he didn’t refuse without suggesting a famous viola-playing modernist to play it in his stead: Paul Hindemith, who premiered it on October 3rd, 1929. In 1961 Walton revised his concerto, making the scoring for winds more economical and adding the harp. It is this version that Walton preferred and it is in this version that you will hear Nils Mönkemeyer perform on this disc.   Max Bruch became increasingly bitter when he realised that he was going to be a one-hit wonder: His first, 1866 Violin Concerto had proved to eclipse all his other works, including his subsequent – by all impassioned accounts equally excellent – violin concertos. Well, come to think of it, maybe he was a two-hit wonder: His 1880 “Adagio on two Hebrew Melodies for Cello and Orchestra with Harp, op. 47 ” aka. Kol Nidrei proved to be pretty popular too. Kol Nidrei has won the hearts of cellists and listeners the world over, since its creation. And every so often it attracts violists, too. Adapting Kol Nidrei for that instrument is pretty straight forward, since the cello part can be taken by the viola pretty much as it is, and Nils Mönkemeyer has dashed off a version for his own use. Together with the transcribed Kol Nidrei , the 1911 Romance for Viola and Orchestra, pairs as a nice little, achingly beautiful quasi-viola-concerto in the late-high romantic, melodic style. “It is music to listen to on your knees.” said one commentator about Pärt’s Fratres (1977). Frantic and yet hovering in place with perfect stillness, it is one of the most mesmerizing compositions by Arvo Pärt. Combining these divergent characteristics into a seamless whole is the hallmark of Pärt’s “tintinnabuli” minimalism. The version for viola, string orchestra and (subtle) percussion is among the most recent additions, written and premiered in 2008.
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Classical - Released May 28, 2013 | CPO

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Classical - Released February 19, 2021 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released March 30, 2018 | Sony Music Classical Local

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