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News - Summer Listening: Viola Concertos

Image: Viola close-up, Lexis0124,
Friday, July 12, 2019
[The viola] had a commanding awkward size, a somewhat veiled, slightly melancholic tone quality, and it seemed always in the middle of things, a good vantage point for a composer.
— John Harbison

Throughout the month of July, G. Schirmer presents further summer listening in the realm of concertos for string instruments. Today, our focus is on the viola, whose body of concertos in the Music Sales catalog is born of commissions for both orchestra principals and international soloists: Yuri Bashmet premiered the below works by Sofia Gubaidulina, Giya Kancheli (Styx), Poul Ruders, and Alfred Schnittke; Paul Neubauer those of Aaron Jay Kernis and Joan Tower; Kim Kashkashian that of Kancheli (Abii Ne Viderem); Nadia Sirota that of Nico Muhly; and Pinchas Zukerman that of Per Nørgård. Thea Musgrave composed her Viola Concerto for her husband Peter Mark, while that of John Harbison reflects his own viola studies.

Through the distinct compositional voices of our many composers, the lyricism, colors, and humanity of the viola are on full display. Please enjoy a Spotify playlist of available recordings of the concertos listed below.

Britta Byström
A Walk After Dark (2014), 23 minutes
Listen on Spotify | View the score
Gabriela Lena Frank
La Llorona (2007), 19 minutes
Watch Frank discuss 'La Llorona' | View the score
Morton Gould
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra (1944), 25 minutes
Listen on Spotify
Sofia Gubaidulina (90 in 2021)
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra (1996), 35 minutes
2+2pic(afl)+bfl.222/3(3Wtba).2+Ebtpt.2+btbn.1(cbtba)/5perc/2kbd(pf.cel.amp hpd)/str ( plus soli vn, va, vc, db 1/4 tone lower
Listen on Spotify | View the score
John Harbison
Concerto for Viola (1988), 22 minutes
2(pic)2(ca)1+bcl.2(cbn)/ min)
Listen on Spotify | View the score
Hafliði Hallgrímsson
Ombra (1995), 20 minutes
string orchestra
Listen on Spotify | View the score
Vagn Holmboe
Viola Concerto, Op. 189 (1992), 25 minutes
Listen on Spotify | View the score
Alan Hovhaness
Talin, Op. 93 (1952), 14 minutes
Listen on YouTube | View the score
Giya Kancheli (85 in 2020)
Abii Ne Viderem (Left In Order Not To See) (1992), 25 minutes
Listen on Spotify
Styx (1999), 36 minutes
SATB Chorus, 2+afl(pic).3(ca).3(bcl).2+cbn/4441/
Listen on Spotify
Aaron Jay Kernis
Viola Concerto (2014), 27 minutes
2(perc:pic).2(2melodica).2(ebcl:bcl).2(melodica)/ ( minimum)
Listen on Spotify | Watch Kernis and soloist Paul Neubauer discuss and perform excerpts | View the score
Peter Lieberson
Viola Concerto (1992), 18 minutes
Listen on Spotify | View the score
Darius Milhaud
Viola Concerto No. 2, Op. 340 (1955), 20 minutes
Listen on YouTube
Nico Muhly
Viola Concerto (2014), 24 minutes
Listen on Spotify | View the score
Thea Musgrave
Viola Concerto (1973), 23 minutes
Listen on YouTube | View the score
Per Nørgård
Remembering Child (1986), 23 minutes
Listen on Spotify | View the score
Ramón Paus
De Profundis (2013), 11 minutes
View the score
Poul Ruders
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra (1994), 28 minutes
Listen on Spotify | View the score
Alfred Schnittke
Viola Concerto (1985), 35 minutes
Listen on Spotify
Joan Tower
Purple Rhapsody (2005), 17 minutes
Listen on Spotify | View the score
Olly Wilson
Viola Concerto (1992), 20 minutes
View the score

For more information on the music and potential guest soloists, please contact Andrew Stein-Zeller.

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