Lawrence Power / Andrew Litton

Rózsa: Viola Concerto; Serly: Rhapsody for Viola & Orchestra; Bartók: Viola Concerto

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AllMusic Review by

Though little concerto repertoire existed for the viola prior to Bartók's concerto commissioned by William Primrose, he managed to inspire a generation of Hungarian composers to keep writing for the often neglected instrument. He did this even though his own concerto remained largely unfinished at his death; it was his longtime friend Tibor Serly who inherited the daunting task of orchestrating Bartók's sketches that yielded the most commonly performed version of the concerto performed today. Serly himself went on to write a concerto and a Rhapsody for viola and orchestra (heard here) that were greatly inspired by Bartók's work. Largely known for his highly successful film scores (especially the film Spellbound), fellow Hungarian Miklós Rózsa also produced a viola concerto. These three works are heard on this Hyperion album performed by violist Lawrence Power with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under Andrew Litton. Power possesses precisely the skills necessary to make a viola concerto really hold its own against the more common violin concertos. His technique is spectacularly facile, and he darts around his instrument with apparent ease and virtually flawless intonation. He also has a big, powerful sound that easily rises above the orchestra while maintaining the throaty, rich sonorities that distinguish the viola from its smaller cousin. On top of this, Power is a consummate musician who truly understands Hungarian music and incorporates a wealth of fiery panache into his interpretations. Litton and orchestra provide a dynamic, rhythmic backdrop for Power that never once obscures the solo line.

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