Paganini, Schubert, Kreisler, Tchaikovsky, Bach, Brahms, Massenet, Rachmaninov, Dvor‡k & Nevin

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bach,Brahms,Dvorák & Nevin,Kreisler,Massenet,Paganini,Rachmaninov,Schubert,Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Biddulph
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: William Primrose
WORKS: Works by Paganini, Schubert, Kreisler, Tchaikovsky, Bach, Brahms, Massenet, Rachmaninov, Dvorák & Nevin
PERFORMER: William Primrose (viola), etc
CATALOGUE NO: LAB 131/2 ADD mono/stereo
The viola is important in ensemble music but seldom gains the opportunity to shine in an individual capacity. Certainly few composers have helped generate a solo repertory, so that a virtuoso violist may resort to transcriptions to advance his cause. That is the case with William Primrose, one of the finest players of our century.


This set falls into two categories: various performances from the Thirties and Forties, and the five Bach Suites (originally for cello) which Primrose emerged from retirement to record at the age of 75 in 1978. The Bach is never dull, displaying a keen architectural sense and well chosen tempi. The tone seems unvarying, however, and matters are not helped by the opaque recorded sound, with the result that the music-making is somewhat unatmospheric. Perhaps this results also from using the viola instead of the cello; Primrose himself felt that the sixth Suite was unsuitable for transcription.


Adapted from 78rpm masters, the remaining items range widely, featuring Paganini Caprices, songs by Schubert and Tchaikovsky, and a magnificent partnership with Marion Anderson in Brahms’s songs with viola. The recorded sound is adequate, but this remains an interesting historical document rather than a really compelling musical experience. Terry Barfoot