For his first full-length Naxos recording, English violist Martin Outram has turned in a disc called English Viola Sonatas with works by Gordon Jacob, John Ireland, Malcolm Arnold, Frederick Delius, and Lennox Berkeley. Three of the works were written for the viola, but two are transcriptions of cello sonatas, both of which are heard here in their world-premiere recording. Ireland's sonata was transcribed by the great English violist Lionel Tertis, and Delius' sonata was done by Outram himself. In every work, Outram proves a stylish and sincere player, with a tone like an alto's and a technique like a diva's. In the difficult works, Arnold's closing Presto feroce, for example, Outram is resolute and inexorable, while in the more poetic works like Ireland's Poco largamente, he is smoothly and sensitively expressive. Outram is confidently accompanied by pianist Julian Rolton. The sound is perhaps too cool, but still vivid. This disc belongs on the shelf with Naxos' earlier issue in this series, featuring violist Eniko Magyar in works by Bliss, Delius, and Bridge.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
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