Remembrances from Home
Isaac ALB…NIZ (1860-1909)
Mallorca [5:06]
Josť Pablo MONCAYO (1912-1958)
Viola Sonata (1934) [15:58]
Cecil FORSYTH (1870-1941)
Chanson Celtique [6:03]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Une Piece en forme díun Habanera [2:40]
Ivan KHANDOSHKIN (1747-1804)
Deux Chansons Russes varieť, for violin and cello Op.4 Ė No.2; Variations on a Russian theme of Love (1783-92) [10:55]
Bohuslav MARTINU (1890-1959)
Viola Sonata No.1 (1955) [15:19]
Stan GOLESTAN (1875-1956)
Arioso et Allegro de Concert [8:42]
Christina Placilla (viola)
Hector Landa (piano)
rec. April 2008, Ovation Sound, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
CENTAUR CRC 3045 [64:43]

This recital mixes original works for viola and piano with transcriptions. The balance is finely judged and the hour or so passes congenially. An example of the latter mix is Mallorca, which is played wistfully but with a touch of nasal tone by Christina Placilla. She and Hector Landa follow it with a bona fide sonata by the Mexican Josť Pablo Moncayo, whose 1934 three movement work lasts for around sixteen minutes. There are some striking rhythmic Ďsnapsí for the pianist Ė here Hector Landa, who plays well throughout - where the viola figuration accompanies subserviently, and thereís plenty of stalking vitality. The austerely lyric line spun by the viola in the slow movement, after the abrupt piano start, is an astutely judged tactic. The notes, by the violist, speak of the sonata owing much to Native Mexican music, as well as to Spanish and African rhythms; she says that the finale sounds ĎAztecí. Iím not up on Aztec music but if it means rhythmically exhausting, Iíll steer clear. Itís a disappointing end, this Ďfinale problemí, to the sonata.

Cecil Forsyth was about as un-Aztec as itís possible to get and his Chanson Celtique is a pleasant example of a well mined seam; his Viola Concerto is on Hyperion. Khandoshkin is enjoying something of a vogue at the moment, at least in relative terms, given his significance in Russian music. His Variations on a Russian theme of Love derives from the second of his Deux Chansons Russes varieť, for violin and cello Op.4. The arrangement heard here comes via Vadim Borisovskyís orchestration, which the two current performers have adapted. Itís a bold work, owing quite a bit to Tartini and his ilk, and replete with virtuosic demands. Itís always good to hear proponents of Martinuís music for viola, and the First Sonata, written for Lillian Fuchs (1901-1995) in 1955 is heard to advantage here. And so too is Stan Golestanís Arioso et Allegro de Concert. The Arioso, though based on the Romanian DoÔna, is a touch cosmopolitan but Golestan gets down to business in the Allegro, which utilises the Hora, and consequently thereís plenty of vitality and opportunities for panache. I donít know many fiddlers who have proselytised for Golestan but one who did was violinist Lola Bobescu.

Agreeably recorded, this is an attractive disc, and will appeal to viola-fanciers looking for some off-beat material.

Jonathan Woolf

Agreeably recorded, this is an attractive disc, and will appeal to viola-fanciers looking for some off-beat material.