Penderecki/Britten/Hindemith

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COMPOSERS: Penderecki/Britten/Hindemith
LABELS: ECM
WORKS: Lachrymae; Viola Concerto; Trauermusik
PERFORMER: Kim Kashkashian (viola)Stuttgart CO/Dennis Russell Davies
CATALOGUE NO: 439 611-2 DDD
The viola is the most elegiac of instruments, one for which composers often reserve their darkest and most intimate thoughts. This disc from the always enterprising ECM label links three works under the title ‘Lachrymae’. Hindemith was a viola player of considerable distinction; indeed, he gave the first performance of Walton’s Viola Concerto. His Trauermusik is a miniature concerto for viola and strings, written in one day, on hearing of the death of King George V in 1936. Kashkashian brings a burnished, chestnut sound, both clear and limpid, and

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the strings of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra produce

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a particularly warm sound, especially when divided. Britten’s Lachrymae was originally written in 1950 for viola and piano and revised for viola and strings in 1976, the year of the composer’s death. Kashkashian brings impassioned playing, standing out well from the orchestra, surely an invaluable benefit that recording can bring. Penderecki’s Viola Concerto (1983), while not obviously a tribute, comes over as mournful, sardonic and angry, a work of resignation rather than consolation. Kashkashian tempers the anger but marvellously responds to the despair. Dennis Russell Davies brings out most effectively the element of the grotesque from the percussion that supplements the silvery Stuttgart strings.