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 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.
The viola was Hindemith's instrument (though he could play almost any), and he wrote some of his most expressive chamber music for it. This two-disc set includes all four of Hindemith's sonatas for solo violin and the three for viola and piano. I prefer the wildness of Hindemith's earlier music to the sometimes arid calm of his later music, so listeners like myself who like Hindemith can have a feast here as most of these are early works. They are played with energy and passion by an outstanding violist and a fine pianist.
The mutual admiration society that was Glenn Gould and Herbert von Karajan gave six concerts between May 1957 and September 1959 featuring Beethoven’s C minor Concerto (Berlin 1957) and Bach’s D minor (Berlin 1958, Lucerne 1959). Though neither of the Bach performances has appeared on disc, the Beethoven has had several CD outings. This handsomely packaged “official” transfer by Sony is the best we have had technically.