Tertis Viola Ensemble - Concerto, Fantasy, Blues Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Concerto for 4 violas in C major – transcribed from concerto for
4 violins [5:50]
Concerto for 4 violas in G major – transcribed from concerto for
4 violins [5:55] Max von WEINZIERL(1841-1898)
Nachtstück for 4 violas Op.34 [8:51] York BOWEN(1884-1961)
Fantasia ("Fantasie Quartet") in E minor for 4 Violas,
Op. 41, No.1 (1907) [10:26] Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)
44 Duos for two violins Sz 98 (1931) – Nos. 10 [1:10], 14 [0:36],
16 [1:07], 26 [0:22], 22 [0:33], 28 [2:34], 35 [1:03], 42 [1:09],
44 [1:55] Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992)
Four for Tango [6:30] Christopher NORTON(b.1953)
Steering Wheel Blues [1:37]
Tertis Viola Ensemble
rec. November 2009, Weryton Studios, Munich
OEHMS CLASSICS OC 788 [50:20]
This viola ensemble, which takes its name from the pioneering
British player, was founded in 2008, and is drawn from the viola
section of the Munich Philharmonic. The booklet consists of
an interview with the four members of the group concerning their
intentions, approach to sound, and to repertoire; all worthy
no doubt, but things are somewhat skimpy when it comes to the
recital itself and the works performed, most of which are glossed.
Given that this includes two big works in the genre, von Weinzierl’s
Nachtstück and York Bowen’s Fantasie Quartet, both of which
are authentically written for this combination of four violas,
a few dates of composition and pointers as to stylistic matters
would have been helpful for the purchaser.
Max von Weinzierl’s taut work, also I believe written for three
violas and cello, is warmly textured and multi-sectional, lasting
around nine minutes in length. The first section is a warm lied,
the second is scherzo-like and there’s a fugal section too,
then more pensive writing in the slow section. These all fuse
together expertly; you can’t, as it were, see the join. It ends,
as it began, with a certain wistful charm. Bowen’s Fantasie
is by contrast a much more fulsome romanticised piece of writing
and much more fluid in its inspiration. Its charming fillips,
and sense of energy and vibrancy are well realised. Appropriate
vibrato weight is used here.
The other works in the programme are, by and large, adaptations.
The two Telemann concertos were written for violins. Here the
Munich foursome adapts its own vibrato usage, and is very much
more sparing with it. They cultivate a kind of viola da gamba
sound, which is not, I suppose, all that inappropriate.
Two of the violists – I’m not sure which – play nine of Bartók’s
44 Duos for two violins. With one exception they’re played in
the ‘right’ order. The duo catches the folk earthiness of No.22
and the last they play, No.44, is well characterised, though
arguably they lose the incipient razory and folkloric zest of
the smaller instrument. Piazzolla’s Four for Tango was originally
written for string quartet, and is a typically insinuating piece
with plenty of slash, sway and scratchy timbres. To end there’s
Christopher Norton’s brief Steering Wheel Blues, a charming
way to show the versatility of the ensemble, in a bit of blues-lite.
It’s the two authentic pieces that will most catch the eye of
collectors but don’t overlook the allied music, which is all
played with dextrous skill.
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