Sapieyevski, Holst, Plog & Kohn

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Holst,Plog & Kohn,Sapieyevski
LABELS: Crystal
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Viola and the Winds
WORKS: Works by Sapieyevski, Holst, Plog & Kohn
PERFORMER: James Dunham (viola), Jack Sanders (guitar), Timm Boatman (percussion); Westwood Wind Quintet
CATALOGUE NO: CD 647 Reissue (1983)
Gustav Holst’s 1925 Terzetto is his only mature chamber work, and a fascinating experiment in polytonality. Throughout, the flute plays in A major, the oboe in A flat, and the viola in C; yet, while each part preserves its melodic integrity, the three blend perfectly in piquant counterpoint and euphonious harmony. Otherwise unaccountably absent from the catalogue, this little tour de force is most welcome here, in a neat and well-balanced performance.

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Nothing so avant-garde in two much more recent American works for viola and wind quintet. But the Concerto by the Polish-born Jerzy Sapieyevski, with additional percussion, maintains interest over its 17-minute span with some arresting sonorities and intricate ensemble writing. And the Four Miniatures by Anthony Plog are imaginative and atmospheric. James Dunham takes the solo roles with warm tone and secure technique, and is well integrated into the ensemble musically and sonically.

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These performances from a 1983 LP are augmented by a previously unissued 1987 recording of a discursive dialogue for viola and guitar by Karl Kohn – also well played, but not much of a contribution to the unity of the programme or the meagre playing time. Anthony Burton