Lise Berthaud / Adam Laloum

Schumann, Schubert, Brahms

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In comparison to the violin and cello, the viola has always had a small repertoire, and works for other instruments have been adapted to augment it. Of the three pieces on this 2013 release by violist Lise Berthaud and her accompanist, Adam Laloum, only Robert Schumann's Märchenbilder was conceived from the beginning for viola and piano. Franz Schubert's "Arpeggione" Sonata was originally composed for a six-stringed cello-like instrument, and the music was transposed to the viola's range and arranged to be playable on four strings. The Sonata No. 2 in E flat major by Johannes Brahms was written for clarinet and piano, but he was so taken with the possibilities that he subsequently arranged it for viola and violin. Yet all three works have become staples for violists, and the program is unified by a common Romantic style and means of expression. Berthaud produces a rich and deeply vibrant tone, and her smooth, sustained lines and lyrical style give these pieces a strong feeling of connectedness. At the piano, Laloum provides understated support that underpins Berthaud's playing with warm harmonies and vigorous rhythms, yet never dominates or pushes the music along. The microphone placement puts the viola front and center, and every note is fully audible, even at the softest dynamics.

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