Jan Peruska / Jiří Bělohlávek

J.V. Stamic & Sons: Viola Concertos

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Many listeners are undoubtedly familiar with the abundance of musical families that proliferate the classical repertoire: the Bach, Mozart, Schumann, and Mendelssohn to name but a few. But the contributions of the Stamitz family may be slightly less recognized. The works of the elder son Carl Stamitz still survive and are performed with relative frequency today. But the works of father Jan Václav Stamic and younger brother Anton Stamitz have been all but forgotten. To the delight of casual listeners and viola fans in particular, this album revitalizes one of the many viola concertos written by each member of this musical family. Although the orchestral introductions by the Prague Philharmonia sometimes get off to a shaky start, soloist Jan Peruska quickly makes up for any minor shortcomings in the orchestra. As energetic, precise, and clean as any violinist could hope to be, Peruska's skills on the viola are quite remarkable. The fastest, most virtuosic passages are tossed off with seeming ease. Slow movements are performed with an air of nobility and elegance befitting works of the late Baroque and early Classical periods. His sound quality is very consistent across the range of his instrument. Even in the highest registers, traditionally problematic for the viola, Peruska's sound is clear and resonant, never strained. Altogether, this album is certainly a welcome addition to any collection, and should definitely be heard by fans of the viola.

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