Classical Music classical CDs reviewed New CD reviews every day latest Classical CD releases Buy your CDs of the classics here

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Works for solo viola

Garth Knox
Naïve  (Montaigne-Auvidis) MO782082 [66.02]
We have no source of supply for this disc but according to the Garth Knox website this disc can be purchaed on line from fnac 1. disques 2. classique 3. xxieme siecle 4. collection Montaigne

Nothing naïve about this co-production with Auvidis Montaigne -WDR! It is the best solo viola CD I have come across and I recommend it strongly - even to those who have been put off by the list of composers and might not have intended to read further?

Garth Knox knows more about contemporary composers and performance of their music than most. As violist of Ensemble Intercontemporain 1983-90, and in the Arditti Quartet 1990-98, he worked closely with all these composers, an ideal pursued in preparing this CD. He writes that 'working with a composer on a solo instrumental piece is as close as you can get to handling the finest detail of the smallest building blocks he uses to construct his sound world'. Record it in an ideal studio situation, with just the right amount of reverberation, and it can be brought into the home, sounding as near as can be to having the player in your living room.

Kurtag, the most demanding of these composers, lets no note pass him by 'until he has placed it in its historical, harmonic, semantic and emotional contexts'. Dillon 'listens and comments in a slightly oblique way', which Knox finds congenial, given their shared Scottish background (Garth was put to the viola to complete the family string quartet!). Sciarrino makes no attempt to control; Ligeti stimulates imagination and curiosity and 'kept telling me to listen to Stephane Grapelli' when preparing his Sonata of 1991/94; Berio, coaching Knox on his Sequenza VI, 'likes to keep a firm grasp on interpretation', Dusapin 'gets carried away with contagious enthusiasm' etc etc.

The sequence is a treasure trove of extremely varied contemporary idioms. I pick out particularly for commendation Sciarrino's notturni brillanti, 'a whirl of an instrumental tightrope executed at lightning speed', and as good an introduction to the scurrying pianissimos of this most individual of Italian composers as you will find, and Dillon's Siorram, an intensively volatile 'enchanted sleep' which changes mood 'with the speed of waking dreams'.

These recordings of 1995/96 have only just been released by Audivis/Naïve, with fascinating notes by Garth Knox - small print on thick paper; you'll need good eyesight, and the cover colouring compounds the difficulty - but it's worth the effort to read it all.

This is a CD which may open music doors if listened to with an open mind. If your appetite is whetted, go on to hear Berio's complete Sequenzas on DG 457 038-2GH3 and his beautiful Voce for viola and orchestra [Aldo Bennici & London Sinfonietta - BMG ClassicsRCA Red Seal RD87898 ].

For Sciarrino at his most extreme you could try an intriguing new CD with Ensemble Recherche [Kairos 0012022KAI], which has his rather conventional adaptations of Gesualdo and includes a long, very esoteric work Infinito Nero with wispy sounds and a text spoken very fast, the speaker entering only after some eleven minutes of near silence. All fully explained - 'silence is not empty. It gives birth to sound' - and beautifully packaged. Very bizarre, so no star rating attempted!


Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers : - The UK's Biggest Video Store

Concert and Show tickets


Musicians accessories

Click here to visit

Return to Index