The British viola player Lawrence Power continues to be acclaimed as one of the greatest performers of today. Together with Hyperion he is recording all of the seminal twentieth-century works for the viola. Of the three Hungarian works for viola and orchestra on this latest release, the best-known is Bartok’s viola concerto, completed after the composer’s death by Tibor Serly.
This disc strikes me as an ideal introduction to the music of Turkey’s greatest composer. Ahmed Adnan Saygun’s style might be described as “Szymanowski with a primal rhythmic feel.” If you love the composer’s First Violin Concerto then you will find here a very similar exoticism, nocturnal atmosphere, and love of voluptuous textures. The harmonic style is intensely chromatic, but also highly melodic. Like Bartók in his last period, Saygun’s handling of tonality mellowed toward the end of his life, which makes the Cello Concerto more consonant than the Viola Concerto, but both works are absolutely gorgeous and masterpieces of their kind. It’s positively criminal that no one plays these pieces regularly in concert. The performances here are excellent. Tim Hugh is a well-known cellist, and he pours on the tone with all of the rhapsodic abandon that Saygun requires. Mirjam Tschopp also is a superb violist, with a big, beefy tone that never gets swamped by the intricate orchestration. It’s also very rewarding to hear a Turkish orchestra in this music–and to find that it plays beautifully under Howard Griffiths.
There is only one word that can describe Narciso Yepes' technique: extraordinary. He was one of the finest virtuoso classical guitarists of the 20th century and his DG albums are regarded as reference recordings. This 5 CD Original Jackets collection brings together all of his concerto recordings for the Yellow Label, recorded between 1969 and 1979. The repertoire ranges from Vivaldi’s Lute Concertos adapted for guitar, to works written for Yepes and other leading guitarists of the 20th century.
These two sonatas, originally written for clarinet, marked the end of an intense period of depression for Brahms, during which his creative energies had all but faded. Kim Kashkashian, whose command of the viola unearths an even deeper realm of possibility in this already engaging diptych, faithfully captures the somber circumstances of its creation. In doing so, she shows that the viola is no less an instrument of breath, drawing from deep within her lungs the sheer vocal power required to carry across such arresting music.
The revival of the viola d'amore as an instrument distinct and separate from the viola is a well-established phenomenon, advanced by composers and performers alike at least since the 1920s. That doesn't mean, however, that there are a great many players of the viola d'amore around, nor are there nearly as many viola d'amores in existence to play, at least in a quantity relative to the number of violas that are out there. It is certainly an odd duck instrument; it has six or seven strings and a rank of sympathetic strings that vibrate along with the player, it puts out rich harmonics and has a mellow, somewhat nasal sound. Although it has earned a considerable number of nods from twentieth-century composers, its historical repertory is relatively small; Attilio Ariosti remains the all-time champion among Baroque composers for the viola d'amore, having written 21 sonatas for the instrument. Next in line is Antonio Vivaldi, with eight concertos and four arias with viola d'amore used in a concertante format. This Virgin Classics disc, Vivaldi: Concerto per Viola D'amore contains all of these concerti, of which the last is a double concerto for viola d'amore and lute, and these are performed by the group that probably constituted the state of the art in Vivaldi interpretation in 2007, Fabio Biondi's Europa Galante.
…No doubt the Prince of Poland himself would have been thrilled to hear a concert in his honour performed as finely as it is here by Andrew Manze and the Academy of Ancient Music.
This pair of single-movement viola concertos written for Yuri Bashmet justify his renown. In both, he is able to draw an impressive variety of expressions from his instrument with seeming ease. On the other hand, it's obvious there was a lot of thought and care put into his interpretations. The concertos need thoughtful interpretations by the soloist and the conductor, not because the pieces are necessarily complex in rhythm or harmony, but they are complex in tone and color………Patsy Morita @ AllMusic.com