In his Treatise on Instrumentation, Hector Berlioz wrote of the viola that ‘the sound of its strings is particularly telling, its upper notes are distinguished by their mournfully passionate accent, and its quality of tone, of a profound melancholy, differs from that of other instruments played with a bow’.
In devising the present programme, Maxim Rysanov could almost have been inspired by this description, and by the affinity between the timbre of the viola and the particular colours in French music. The pieces – all arrangements – by Ravel, Fauré and Debussy are bathed in an atmosphere of calm beauty with a hint of melancholy. Framed by two Pavanes, they include perennial favourites such as Après un rêve and Clair de lune, performed by a player who ‘couldn’t make an ugly sound if he tried’ and who ‘better than almost anyone else is able to bring out the beauties of the viola’ according to reviews in International Record Review and on website klassik.com respectively.
Two contemporary pieces are included – both of them by the Swiss-French composer Richard Dubugnon (b. 1968), described as belonging ‘to a tradition that looks back to Ravel by way of Dutilleux’. Incantatio and Lied, both for viola and piano, are adaptations by the composer of existing works, made especially for Maxim Rysanov.
For BIS Rysanov has previously recorded a solo disc (with three of Bach’s cello suites) as well as his own arrangement for viola and orchestra of Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations. He is here partnered by the eminent British pianist Ashley Wass.
Extra material for download