[ BIS SACD / Hybrid SACD ]
Release Date: Saturday 30 May 2015
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Maxim Rysanov, one of today's leading viola players, explores Martinů's clear fascination with the viola on this disc, opening with the Rhapsody-Concerto from 1952. In this lyrical two-movement work, Rysanov is supported by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the eminent Martinů expert Jiří Bělohlávek. The two Duos for violin and viola which follow are slightly earlier (from 1947 and 1950, respectively). Here the young Russian violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky joins Rysanov, in two scores where exacting technical demands bring the reward of an astonishing richness in sounds and variety from such a sparse instrumentation. Maxim Rysanov closes the disc in the company of the pianist Katya Apekisheva, performing the Viola Sonata of 1955 - like the Rhapsody-Concerto in two movements, with a tough, passionate mood that often recalls the composer's better-known cello sonatas.
"It makes perfect sense that Bohuslav Martinů was a fan of the viola; the instrument's generous, conversational voice is exactly right for his music, and this recording from Ukrainian violist Maxim Rysanov is easy proof of why...Rysanov clinches the shifting characters and always makes his lines sing; conductor Jiří Bělohlávek draws warmth and brawn from the BBC Symphony Orchestra." (Guardian)
"Rysanov plays…with great expression and there's a spring in his step…the Viola Sonata, with Katya Apekisheva in strong support, is the most discursive of the pieces here but she and Rysanov have the measure of it. That distinctive measured dance tune at 1'44 which returns as the first movement's coda is pure magic in their hands. A Martinu CD to play again and again." Gramophone Magazine Award Nomination 2016 - Concerto
'Owen Rees's interpretations are revelatory and even visionary. Witness the subtle dynamic shading he applies to William Mundy's Sive vigilem and the very finely judged pacing of the drive towards the climax in Theodoricus Gerarde's magnificent setting of the same text.' BBC Music Chamber Recording of the Month August 2015
"Maxim Rysanov is one of my favourite violists. His performances here are totally convincing and demonstrate both enthusiasm for and understanding of Martinů's musical language. The same can be said for his partners. We already know the BBC Symphony and Jirí Belohlávek are unimpeachable authorities in this repertoire, but violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky lends formidable talent to the duos, and the relatively unknown Katya Apekisheva proves a worthy and equal partner in the sonata with piano. Recorded sound is phenomenal, as usual for BIS. BIS's "usual" is most labels' "best." The concerto recording, by the way, shares a producer with the BBC/Belohlávek symphony cycle, and shares an engineer with half of those symphony recordings. Only one thing could have made this album a more attractive package: a cover photo of the composer holding his pet cat and we get that too. What a pleasure all around." (MusicWeb August 2015)
Rhapsody-Concerto for Viola and Orchestra
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jiří Bělohlávek
Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola (Duo No. 1), H. 313
Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin)
Duo for Violin and Viola No. 2, H. 331
Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin
Sonata for Viola & Piano, H. 355
Katya Apekisheva (piano)