Recording in Aldbury Church

Engineer – Jonathan Haskell (Astounding Sounds)

Vieuxtemps’ Capriccio for solo viola was one of only three works he wrote for the viola. In each of the three works, the Capriccio, Sonata and Elegie, it shines through that Vieuxtemps was a violinist and viola player himself. He played on a Gasparo da Saló. The pieces are virtuosic, but still idiomatic. The Capriccio, improvisatory in style, explores the rich colours of the viola.

[audio:|titles=Vieuxtemps Capriccio]

Stravinsky’s Élégie for solo viola is played muted throughout. It is in three sections, the third being a variation of the first – a chorale with accompaniment. The middle section is a two-part fugue. It was written in 1944, in memory of Alphonse Onnou the founder of the Pro Arte Quartet, at the request of its then present viola player, Germain Prévost.

[audio:|titles=Stravinsky Elegie]

Penderecki’s Cadenza for solo viola, written in 1984, is a self-contained work, although based on his viola concerto written a year earlier (the viola was one of his favourite instruments). It is in three sections, slow-fast-slow, and is based on the motif of a descending minor second which is present throughout the piece. It was first performed at Penderecki’s own chamber music festival in Luslawice, Poland, in September 1984. Characteristically of Penderecki, it has no bar lines or time signatures.

[audio:|titles=Penderecki Cadenza]

Britten’s Elegy for solo viola was written when he was sixteen, probably for himself to play, one day after he left Gresham’s School. Although he had not been happy there, on leaving he said “I didn’t think I should be sorry to leave”.  The piece conveys this sense of sorrow.

[audio:|titles=Britten Elegy]