Nowadays it seems that a little sex appeal can be used to sell almost anything. The cover of this Doron Music album shows that this even applied to the most unlikely of subjects: the viola. Even the title -- Liebesbilder (Love Scene) -- pushes the amorous intent of the album, which, by the artist's own admission, sounds like the title of a soap opera. The surprising thing is that despite its theatrical aspects, it really is a pretty solid viola album. It opens with the Liebeslieder of Emil Kreuz (from which the album's title was inspired), a well-composed, highly idiomatic composition that is mysteriously absent from the viola's standard repertoire. The Enescu Concert Piece and Glinka Sonata (actually completed by one of his students) fill in the middle of the album. These two works are equally well-written for the viola, playing to the instrument's strengths and avoiding problematic areas of its range. The final work on the album is Piazzolla's Grand Tango, which was scored for either cello or viola. Despite this fact, the Grand Tango sounds the least comfortable on the instrument, which struggles to produce the same richness of sonorities as the cello. Violist Laurent Rochat's playing is very romanticized (as would be expected given the title and cover) and lush, but surprisingly never crosses the line of being overdone or sappy. His technique is quite solid, intonation generally beautifully accurate, and tone (particularly in the lower registers of his instrument) deep and sultry.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Liebeslieder, for viola & piano, Op. 5/1|
|Sonata for viola & piano in D minor, G. iv3|