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News - Summer Listening: Viola Concertos

Image: Viola close-up, Lexis0124, wikimedia.org
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
1+pic.2.2.2/2.2.0.0/2perc/str
Listen on Spotify | View the score
 
Gabriela Lena Frank
La Llorona (2007), 19 minutes
2(pic).2(ca).2(bcl).2/2.2Ctpt.2.0/timp.3perc/pf(cel).hp/str
Watch Frank discuss 'La Llorona' | View the score
 
Morton Gould
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra (1944), 25 minutes
2.3.3.3/4.3.3.1/timp.4perc/hp/str
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 (16.14.12.10.8) 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)/2.2.0.0/timp.perc/hp.cel/str(6.0.5.4.2 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
3.2.2.2/4.2.3.1/3perc/str
Listen on Spotify | View the score
 
Alan Hovhaness
Talin, Op. 93 (1952), 14 minutes
2.2.2.2/2.2.2.1/timp.vib/hp.pf/str
Listen on YouTube | View the score
 
Giya Kancheli (85 in 2020)
Abii Ne Viderem (Left In Order Not To See) (1992), 25 minutes
pf.bgtr/str
Listen on Spotify
 
Styx (1999), 36 minutes
SATB Chorus, 2+afl(pic).3(ca).3(bcl).2+cbn/4441/timp.perc.pf(spinet).bgtr/str
Listen on Spotify
 
Aaron Jay Kernis
Viola Concerto (2014), 27 minutes
2(perc:pic).2(2melodica).2(ebcl:bcl).2(melodica)/2.2.0.0/timp(perc)/str (6.6.4.4.2 minimum)
Listen on Spotify | Watch Kernis and soloist Paul Neubauer discuss and perform excerpts | View the score
 
Peter Lieberson
Viola Concerto (1992), 18 minutes
2(pic).1+ca.2.2/2.2.2.1/timp/str
Listen on Spotify | View the score
 
Darius Milhaud
Viola Concerto No. 2, Op. 340 (1955), 20 minutes
2.2.2.2/2.2.2.1/timp.perc/hp/str
Listen on YouTube
 
Nico Muhly
Viola Concerto (2014), 24 minutes
2+pic.2+ca.2+bcl.2/4.3.2+btbn.1/3perc/pf(cel)/str
Listen on Spotify | View the score
 
Thea Musgrave
Viola Concerto (1973), 23 minutes
1.2.2.1/3.2.1.0/perc/hp/str
Listen on YouTube | View the score
 
Per Nørgård
Remembering Child (1986), 23 minutes
1.2.1.2/2.1.0.0/perc/pf/str
Listen on Spotify | View the score
 
Ramón Paus
De Profundis (2013), 11 minutes
2.2.2.2/4.3.2+btbn.1/timp.3perc/hp/str
View the score
 
Poul Ruders
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra (1994), 28 minutes
2.2.2.2/2.2.1.0/timp.2perc/str
Listen on Spotify | View the score
 
Alfred Schnittke
Viola Concerto (1985), 35 minutes
3(pic,afl).3(ca).3(Ebcl,bcl).3(cbn)/4441/timp.perc.chm.vib.xyl.Flexatone/hp.cel.hpd.pf/str(0.0.8.8.8)
Listen on Spotify
 
Joan Tower
Purple Rhapsody (2005), 17 minutes
2(pic).0.2(bcl).2/0.2.0+btn.0/timp.perc./str
Listen on Spotify | View the score
 
Olly Wilson
Viola Concerto (1992), 20 minutes
2+pic.2(ca).2.2/4.3.3.1/timp.2perc/pf.hp/str
View the score

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


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