All products and recordings are chosen independently by our editorial team. This review contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Please read our affiliates FAQ page to find out more.

Sola – Music for Viola by Women Composers

Rosalind Ventris (viola) (Delphian)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Sola – Music for Viola by Women Composers
Works by Bacewicz, Beamish, Feery, L Fuchs, I Holst, Lutyens, Maconchy and Musgrave
Rosalind Ventris (viola)
Delphian DCD 34292   64:40 mins


This brilliantly niche recording, featuring 20th- and 21st-century music by female composers for solo viola, is one happy outcome of the pandemic. British violist Rosalind Ventris understandably found herself drawn to solo repertoire during lockdown and spent hours tracking down less-known works for solo viola. As the project took shape, she was especially pleased to be placing the spotlight on her instrument: ‘given we spend so much time in the middle of a group, in the middle of the texture, it’s not every day that we hear the viola on its own.’

The result of Ventris’s curiosity and tenacity is this beautiful, varied and enlightening programme of nine works, composed from 1930 to the present day. Imogen Holst’s Suite for Viola is the oldest work featured and offers a modernist take on the Baroque suite. Ventris brings absolute technical assurance and a vivid sense of line to the rapid shifts of mood and register in the work’s motile ‘Prelude’, while her sonorous account of the ‘Saraband’ ranges from restrained melancholy to the depths of feeling. Among the many excellent more contemporary works, Amanda Feery’s Boreal (2010) is especially powerful in its evocative response to the frozen seabeds of Antarctica, while Thea Musgrave’s Light at the End of the Tunnel, (commissioned by the BBC at the height of the pandemic) charts a course from despair to hope, and receives a deeply affecting interpretation from Ventris.

In all, beautifully performed and recorded, and with excellent sleeve notes from Katy Hamilton.


Kate Wakeling