Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata (arr. Tabakova)

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COMPOSERS: Bruch,Schubert,Tchaikovsky
WORKS: Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata (arr. Tabakova); Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme; Bruch: Romance in F, Op. 85
PERFORMER: Maxim Rysanov (viola); Swedish Chamber Orchestra/Muhai Tang

At first glance Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata seems a most unlikely candidate for transformation into a fully-fledged viola concerto. A closer look at the score suggests otherwise, particularly as the piano plays a rather subsidiary role in the musical argument. Indeed there is some historical precedence for Dobrinka Tabakova’s resourceful arrangement in the present release since Gaspar Cassadó adapted the same work for cello and full orchestra in 1930. Yet whereas the Cassadó sounds somewhat bloated, Tabakova’s adaptation for string orchestra seems more closely attuned to the intimate spirit of the original. Certainly Maxim Rysanov makes the best possible case for hearing this version, delivering a wonderfully poetic account of the solo part with subtle and sensitive accompaniment from the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.
Viola players often bemoan the lack of substantial concerto repertoire from the 19th century so one can understand Rysanov’s decision to ‘borrow’ Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations. Apart from a few tweaks in tessitura, the original solo part remains exactly the same and Rysanov’s dazzling performance makes us believe that the work was tailor-made for his instrument.
With the Bruch Romance we come to music that was genuinely conceived for viola and orchestra, and here Rysanov convincingly sustains the lyrical impulse in the writing. Despite its short measure this beautifully recorded release deserves a strong recommendation. Erik Levi