You Review: Peter Mallinson and Matthias Wiesner

Reader Anna Williams enjoys rarely heard viola duos at St Catherine’s College, Cambridge

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You Review: Peter Mallinson and Matthias Wiesner
Rating: 
5

This illuminating concert by two BBC Symphony Orchestra violists presented works from the surprisingly substantial, yet neglected, repertoire for viola duo: a sonata from a set of six for two violas by the Baroque composer Jean-Marie Leclair; Lionel Tertis’s Variations on a Passacaglia of Handel, which uses the same theme as Johan Halvorsen’s Passacaglia for Violin and Viola; and Edmund Rubbra’s Meditations on a Byzantine Hymn.

Rubbra’s version of the Meditations for two violas retains the ethereal plangency of his more familiar version for viola solo, while adding a lustrous richness that leaves one wondering why this version is not the better known of the two.

The highlight of the concert was the warmly-received Sinfonia a Due by the Soviet-era Russian composer Fyodor Druzhinin, an astonishing diapason of timbres and special effects. Sinuous melodic lines spun through its three movements, which ranged in style from archly elegant neo-classicism to driving, quasi-gypsy rhythms and tonalities, resulting in a composition by turns playful and darkly turbulent.

This programme revealed the expressive range of the instrument to full advantage, in compelling performances that were a virtuosic synthesis of wit and passion.

 Anna Williams, King’s Lynn

 

 

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