Tabea Zimmermann: Solo

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LABELS: Myrios
WORKS: Reger: Three Suites for Viola, Op. 131D; JS Bach: Cello Suites, BWV 1007 & 1008
PERFORMER: Tabea Zimmermann (viola)

 ‘Direct’ and ‘accessible’ are words not normally associated with Reger’s music. Yet in the neglected three unaccompanied viola suites the composer appears to have put aside his propensity for contrapuntal elaboration and tortuous chromaticism, instead creating works of unexpectedly wide emotional contrasts. Doubtless few players could make a more convincing case for their reappraisal than Tabea Zimmermann.
Supported by a wonderfully sonorous recording, her technically irreproachable performances convey a real sense of spontaneity and convincingly encapsulate the distinctive character of each movement, whether lyrical and intense or playful and vibrant.
On paper Zimmermann’s decision to intersperse the Reger with transcriptions of the first two Bach Cello Suites might appear disadvantageous to the lesser-known composer. In practice, however, the juxtapositions work surprisingly well, reinforcing the profound musical connections that Reger shared with Bach as well as highlighting the ways in their approaches differed.
In any case, Zimmermann seems equally attuned to Bach’s idiom, bringing a marvellous fluidity to the arpeggios of the Prelude to the First Suite and an almost folk-like rusticity to the same work’s Gigue.
Likewise, she has the measure of the much darker Second Suite, offering very expressive accounts of the Prelude and Sarabande that are refreshingly free from self-conscious mannerisms. Erik Levi