Solo Viola at All Saints’, Hertford
1pm, ‘Soundbites’, All Saints’ Church, Hertford.
Diana Mathews – viola
Tomaso Albinoni – Prelude
Henry Purcell – Prelude
J. S. Bach – (Flute) Partita in A minor BWV 1013
Richard Rodney Bennet – ‘Rondel’
Johann Paul von Westhoff (1656-1705) – Suite (violin) in A minor
Sadie Harrison ‘Three Dances for Diana Nemorensis’ (2013)
Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787) – (Viola da Gamba) Sonata in G major WKO 155
Paul Osterfield – ‘Ablaze’
Sir Richard Rodney Bennett was born in Broadstairs in 1936 and is equally well-known for his concert and film music. He wrote the music for ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ and ‘Nicolas and Alexander’. ‘Rondel’ was commissioned for the 1997 Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition. It is based on the French popular song ‘Allons gay’ which was first printed in 1536.
Johann Paul von Westhoff was brought up and educated at the Dresden court, and later he was a member of the court orchestra there, as his father was before him. The Suite I am about to play is the first in a set of six. This collection appears to have been the first devoted entirely to music for unaccompanied violin and it has often been thought of as the model for Bach’s solo violin music. His first suite is in four movements: Allemande, Courante, Sarabande and Gigue.
Sadie Harrison wrote ‘Diana Nemorensis’. At the top of the first movement, ‘Diana’, is written: ‘she carries a quiver on her shoulder, and overtops all the other goddesses as she walks’ from Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’. We meet the ‘Aeneid’ again in the second movement, ‘Hecate’:‘Hecate whose name is howled by night at the city cross-roads.’ The third movement, ‘Selene’, has a quote from Nonnus, Dionysiaca: ‘Daughter of Helios, Mene [Selene] of many turnings’.
Carl Friedrich Abel was a German composer and renowned player of the viola da gamba for which he composed many important works. The sonata in G major is the 15th of 44 sonatas which he wrote for the instrument. Like Westhoff, Abel was also a member of the Court Orchestra in Dresden. Abel was a friend of Bach’s son, Johann Christian Bach and together they established the Bach/Abel concerts. These were England’s first subscription concerts and many of Haydn’s works received their first English performance at them.
Paul Osterfield wrote his fantastic piece ‘Ablaze’ for me when I asked him to write a show-piece for solo viola. This is what he writes: ‘The ritornello sections are fast, frantic, and loud, as if on fire. The intervening episodes contrast with the main idea, but there is still an underlying sense of urgency, like embers striving to erupt in a full blaze.’