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.
The ‘warm voice’ of the viola has long been associated with pioneering British performers such as Lionel Tertis, for whom Vaughan Williams wrote his tuneful and elegantly crafted ‘Suite.’ Tertis famously rejected the score of Walton’s ‘Viola Concerto,’ but instantly regretted his decision on hearing its lyrical warmth and piquant blend of delicacy and bite at the premiere performed by Paul Hindemith. Howells’s somber but noble ‘Elegy’ is a memorial for a student colleague killed in action during World War I. Hailed as “one of the world’s greatest violists” (American Record Guide), Helen Callus continues to captivate audiences with her lyrical tone, technical command, and profound artistry. She is a sought-after recitalist, chamber musician, and concerto soloists. She has performed with such world-class ensembles as the Tokyo and Juilliard String Quartets, the BBC Concert Orchestra, and delighted audiences across the world. She is an award-winning recording artist and her seven releases have been met with the highest critical acclaim.
This symphony probably may not have changed musical history from the moment it was first written, in Salzburg in early 1774 by the 18-year-old Mozart. But it crystallises the young man’s emerging compositional self-confidence, and that shows him spreading his wings in symphonic music just as he had already started to do in the opera house and in his chamber 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.
Brett Dean (born 1961 in Brisbane, Australia) is beginning to be a much talked about name in the music world. Long established as a fine violist (he was a violist with the Berlin Philharmonic for fifteen years) both as an ensemble member and soloist, Dean is spending more time composing these days than playing.