British Viola Society Members’ Reviews
Wigmore Hall: Saturday 29th November 2014
Since its origins in the early 1500s, the viola has played a crucial role in the development of chamber music. The Wigmore Hall’s viola day offered a chance to journey through five centuries of the instrument’s development in company with four remarkable virtuosi:
- Tabea Zimmermann - internationally celebrated recitalist, chamber musician, and concerto soloist;
- Antoine Tamestit - former pupil of Zimmermann and now world renowned;
- Garth Knox - former violist of the Arditti Quartet; and
- Rosalind Ventris - winner of the EUCO Prize at the 2006 Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition.
BVS Member, Emily Pond writes:
... What better way to spend a Saturday than celebrating the wonderful music written for, in my opinion, the best instrument of the string family. A viola day at the Wigmore Hall, bringing renown violists together to perform a range of solo and ensemble works.The day started with a concert comprising of early viola music dating back to the 1400′s.
This was followed by a concert named ‘Lionel Tertis as Composer and Arranger’. Tertis first studied the violin before continuing his studies on viola at the Royal Academy of Music, as it was an instrument nobody was interested in. He built up the viola repertoire from commissions and transcriptions; some of which were performed in this concert. There was a piece composed by a student from the Academy; Eric Coates, another was an arrangement of a piece composed by his friend Fritz Kreisler, which worked beautifully on the viola. This concert was a wonderful way to hear what extra repertoire Tertis provided for our instrument, and to realise we are lucky to have such beautiful music available to us to perform ourselves.
But the highlight of the day, had to be the evening concert, bringing the 4 violists of the day together. Rosalind Ventris opened the concert performing a wonderful Rebecca Clarke Sonata, displaying a lovely palette of colours. This was followed by Garth Knox, a violist very much specialising in contemporary music. He performed Shostakovitch’s Seven Preludes Op 34, each requiring a very different character, he captured these wonderfully. After this, Zimmerman and Ventris performed Frank Bridge Lament for two violas, this was just stunning, their two sounds merged so seem measly it was as though there was only one player.
But of course, no viola day would be a viola day without Hindemith, it was Adrien La Marca who performed a Op 11 no 4, with an extremely sensitive opening. The theme and variations in this piece started in a very simple manner, with character building through each variation until the end; this was a fantastic performance and La Marca’s energy waster by everyone in the audience.
After a short interval, Tabea Zimmerman performed Arnold Bax Sonata for viola and piano, not a very well known piece, but Zimmerman’s sound was just exquisite, so solid and warm, but also she has the most delicate quiet passages that carried so well through the hall- out of this world! Knox and La Marca then gave a comical yet amazing performed 3 of Knox’s Viola Spaces. Then to finish of a concert of extreme high quality, the violists came together to perform York Bowen Fantasia for 4 violas, this was just magnificent, their sounds blended so well, and Zimmerman still sang the melody effortlessly over a lush cushion provided by the other 3 performers.
This was certainly a day not to be missed and it was such a great opportunity to hear some core rep, but also some lesser known pieces. I will definitely be purchasing the Bax sonata and will continue to work toward that Tabea Zimmerman sound! Wow!! ‘
12 November 2013 : London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev.
BERLIOZ Overture: Benvenuto Cellini
BERLIOZ : The Death of Cleopatra
BERLIOZ : Harold in Italy for Viola and Orchestra
Antoine Tamestit joined the Orchestra for Harold in Italy’s famous solo viola role.
BVS Student member, Alistair Rutherford writes:
From the moment Antoine Tamestit laid foot on the stage of the Barbican Hall he brought about an aura of control and command. Harold in Italy was the finale of the series and the whole performance took the audience through the journey of Harold from the Mountains to the Love scene with great conviction. Tamestits control of the Viola was immaculate and his range of dynamics and colours were flawless. He conveyed the sense of programmatic material in Berlioz’s music which brought about a theatrical and emotional performance.
The London Symphony Orchestra never lost focus or direction at any point during the concert, providing inspiring fortissimo dynamics to personal dolce passages. The communication between Gergiev, the section leaders and the rest of the sections was top quality, with no directions from the maestro being missed. The whole audience was encapsulated by the raw musicianship on display and this was a top quality display of communication, theatre and talent.