Elgar / Schnittke: Viola Concertos

Album cover art for upc 761195115329
Label: ONDINE
Catalog: ODE11532
Format: CD

Philharmonia Orchestra Christoph Eschenbach, conductor David Aaron Carpenter, viola

Elgar: Cello Concerto arranged for Viola (Arr. Tertis)
Schnittke: Viola Concerto

Wholenote Discoveries - October 2009
I sometimes find the transcription of concertos hard to justify, suspecting that the motivation is possibly more practical than musical, and aimed primarily at increasing the repertoire. If ever a recording ought to blow that feeling away, it's this transcription of the Elgar Cello Concerto for viola. Viola concertos are pretty thin on the ground, and when the great virtuoso Lionel Tertis made his transcription in 1928 Elgar not only gave it his full approval but also conducted the first major performance with Tertis in 1930. David Aaron Carpenter is a wonderful talent, and has built on Tertis' transcription for this, his own arrangement, which he feels is “more attuned to what Elgar originally wrote.” He doesn't say how, but no matter - the cello and viola share a tonal quality that makes this a natural progression, and in this marvellous performance the concerto remains a moving and supremely satisfying work. The year of Elgar's death - 1934 - was also that of Schnittke's birth. His viola concerto was completed in 1958, only ten days before the major stroke that left him partially paralysed, and the work consequently had great personal significance for him. It's a stunning, albeit dark, passionate and introspective work, clearly influenced by Shostakovich and also by Berg. Carpenter calls it “harrowing” and “emotionally draining”, and it's easy to see - and hear - why. A great recorded sound and top-drawer performances from Carpenter, Eschenbach and the Philharmonia make this an outstanding disc. Terry Robbins
Gramophone Editor's Choice - October 2009
Carpenter gives a commandingly articulate display (of the Elgar Concerto), and the Philharmonia are on immaculately scrubbed form under Christoph Eschenbach's thoughtful lead. (In the Schnittke Concerto) Carpenter plays with superlative assurance and magnetic conviction (...). An impressive and bold debut. Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone, October 2009, Editor's Choice

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