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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.