Romance oubliée

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COMPOSERS: Glazunov,Kreisler and Kodály,Liszt,Sitt,Vierne,Vieuxtemps,Wieniawski
LABELS: Myrios Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Romance oubliée
WORKS: Works by Sitt, Glazunov, Vierne, Vieuxtemps, Wieniawski, Liszt, Kreisler and Kodály
PERFORMER: Tabea Zimmermann (viola), Thomas Hoppe (piano)


For many years violists were almost invariably divided into one of two main camps: those who emulated the rich, alto-cello sound of Lionel Tertis, and the alto fiddlers who preferred a cleaner, brighter sonority in the manner of William Primrose. Today we are blessed with a crop of gifted players who make no concession in either direction but relish the instrument’s own unique sonic qualities, including an autumnal woodiness that none of its string cousins can begin to replicate and which Tabea Zimmermann coaxes from her alluring 1980 Etienne Vatelot instrument to beguiling effect.

The major discovery here is Hans Sitt’s Op. 39 Albumblätter (Album Leaves), six Schumannesque miniatures that Zimmermann nurtures and caresses with a bewitching range of tonal colours, further enhanced by Thomas Hoppe’s pitch-perfect accompaniment. Her exquisite ability to vary her vibrato-rate from a narrow-fast intensity down to an ear-ringing, vibrato-less ‘white’ sound is at its most telling in pieces by Vierne (Le soir and Légende), Vieuxtemps (Elégie) and Liszt (the haunting Romance oubliée, which lends the recital its name). Kreisler’s meltingly lovely Op. 4 Romance and Aucassin et Nicolette are cherished with an insouciant warmth and spontaneity to rival the composer-violinist himself, and Zimmermann captures the vein of gentle innocence that lies at the heart of Glazunov’s Op. 44 Elégie to perfection, enhanced by sound of glowing opulence.


Julian Haylock