Bartók, Rozsa: Viola Concertos

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COMPOSERS: Bartok,Rózsa
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Bartók: Viola Concerto; Rózsa: Viola Concerto; Serly: Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra
PERFORMER: Lawrence Power (viola); Bergen PO/Andrew Litton


This disc brings together two of the most substantial of all 20th-century viola concertos. The Bartók has been established in the repertory for many years, thanks to the advocacy of its dedicatee William Primrose and countless other soloists. In contrast the Rózsa remains grievously undervalued despite receiving a high profile first performance in 1984
by Pinchas Zukerman.

Listening to Lawrence Power’s committed performance of both works leaves one grappling for reasons for the comparative neglect of the Rózsa. True, it’s a much more harmonically astringent work than the much admired Violin Concerto, but there’s also no shortage of deeply felt lyrical writing particularly in the expansive opening movement. Power delivers a highly charged account of the solo part maximising emotional contrasts in the music to an even greater extent than the impressive Gilad Karni on a rival Naxos disc.


The Bartók is equally compelling, Power and Litton extracting a varied range of colour from the first two movements. Following on from the high spirited Finale, soloist and conductor let loose in Tibor Serly’s exhilarating Rhapsody, which sparkles with brilliance. Erik Levi