Lady Viola succeeds on all levels

Violist Kristina Fialová outlines her mission with this release in the liner notes.

1) Feature works for an under-represented solo instrument — the viola.

2) Select those works from an under-represented segment of composers — females.

3) Perform said works with an under-represented segment of classical instrumentalists — females (again).

What makes this an exciting release for me is that Fialová does without compromise. The viola is as expressive an instrument as the violin. The listener needs make no allowances for the instrument.

The compositions are inventive and well-crafted. No one got a pass because of their gender. And the performances are committed and engaging. These are all first-rate artists.

Rebecca Clarke and Grazyna Bacewicz are the best-known of the six composers featured. Clarke is represented with two works. One is the Passacaglia for viola and piano.

The second is the Prelude, Allegro, and Pastorale for viola and clarinet. The blend of these two instruments gives this work a warm, dark sound. Clarke studied with Ralph Vaughan Williams. This piece has some of RVW’s English pastoral sound, I think.

Bacewitz’s Polish Capriccio was originally for solo violin. This arrangement for solo viola works just as well. The viola’s darker timbre, to me, enhanced the folk origins of the piece and gave it a different kind of beauty.

The oldest work on the program is by Maria Theresia von Paradis. This blind concert pianist was a colleague of Haydn and Mozart, and her music shares their style. The viola’s melody of her Sicilienne is both lyrical and wistful.

Every work on this release was a pleasure to listen to. Kristina Fialová is a talented artist, and her expressive performances drew me in.

And thanks to Lady Viola, I now have several more composers I want to seek out music by. Mission accomplished!

Lady Viola
Bacewicz, Bodorová, Clarke, Fuchs, Paradis, Vorlová
Kristina Fialová, viola
Jitka Čechová, piano; Anna Paulová clarinet

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