Britten, Clarke, Grainger, Bax, Bridge And Vaughan Williams

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COMPOSERS: Bax,Bridge And Vaughan Williams,Britten,Clarke,Grainger
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: English Music for Viola
WORKS: Music by Britten, Clarke, Grainger, Bax, Bridge and Vaughan Williams
PERFORMER: Paul Coletti (viola), Leslie Howard (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66687 DDD
Many British composers of the earlier part of the century found a special inspiration in the uniquely mellow tone of the viola, often encouraged in their endeavours by the remarkable playing of Lionel Tertis. In his first recital recording, Paul Coletti, who was born in Scotland but now lives in the USA, proves an eloquent advocate for music which is little known, but offers rewards in abundance.

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For example, the three contrasted pieces by Rebecca Clarke are real discoveries. The charming Lullaby, the Romantically atmospheric Morpheus and the larger-scale Sonata reveal a talent that was based upon an intimate understanding of the instrument.

Like Clarke, Bridge was a fine violist; his two pieces, Allegro appassionato and Pensiero, combine sensitivity with passion and technical command, while Bax’s Legend has a typically Celtic Romanticism. The Vaughan Williams Romance, an undated piece discovered after the composer’s death, generates considerable emotional power; and Britten’s Elegy is another recent discovery, first performed in 1984, but composed 55 years before.

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Two unusual items by Percy Grainger complete a most stimulating programme, which is performed with distinction by both artists – it seems a pity, therefore, that pianist Leslie Howard goes unacknowledged in the insert biographies.