Bliss – Bax – Vaughan Williams

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Project Description

English Music for Viola and Piano
Bliss – Bax – Vaughan Williams

Arthur Bliss (1891-1975)

Sonata for Viola and Pianoforte
1 I Moderato 7:49
2 II Andante 9:40
3 III Furiant: Molto Allegro – Coda Andante maestoso 8:08

Arnold Bax (1883-1953)

Sonata for Viola and Piano
4 I Molto moderato 11:35
5 II Allegro energico ma non troppo presto 6:54
6 III Molto lento 7:55

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

Suite for Viola and Pianoforte
7 I Prelude: Allegro moderato 2:40
8 II Carol: Andante con moto 2:14
9 III Christmas dance: Allegro 1:47
10 IV Ballad: Lento non troppo 4:59
11 V Moto perpetuo: Allegro 3:44
12 VI Musette: Lento 3:00
13 VII Polka melancolique: Molto moderato 2:57
14 VIII Galop: Allegro molto 2:09

Christian Euler, viola
Paul Rivinius, piano
MDG SACD 903 1796-6, 1 SACD

He is regarded as the “father of the viola”. For all that, Lionel Tertis did not invent the viola. Around the turn of the 20th century, however, he was the first musician who concertised internationally with this wonderfully flexible instrument and inspired important composers.

Excerpt from the 1st movement, “Moderato”, of the Sonata for Viola and Pianoforte by Arthur Bliss (1891-1975)

Christian Euler has begun tracing Tertis’s footsteps and, together with the pianist Paul Rivinius, dug up three English compositions by Bliss, Bax and Vaughan Williams that could hardly be more different from each other, presenting the wide range of the viola’s impressive potential.

Excerpt from the 3rd “Molto lento” of the Sonata for Viola and Piano by Arnold Bax (1883-1953)

What the critics say

“It is a good sign that the Lionel Tertis repertoire of English music form the early 20th century is being takenup on the other side of the Channel. This recording by German-born Christian Euler includes tow of the best sonatas written for Tertis: Arnold Bax’s from 1922 and Arthur Bliss’s from 1933. …

This well-fille CD is completed by Vaughan Williams’s Suite from 1934, seldom heard in its viola-and-piano guise. Euler’s playing in the eight short movements is utterly lovely, catching theinnocent charm of the `Carol´and `Christmas Dance´while dispatching the Moto perpetuo with rare virtuosity.” THE STRAD, November 2013

Excerpt from the 4th movement, »Ballad. Lento non troppo« der Suite for Viola and Pianoforte by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

“One must indeed be a master violist like Christian Euler in order to do justice to the demands made by this music. Euler can allow his instrument to sing both in the low register and the highest registers and, if need be, he can also coax heftier tones out of the instrument (third movement of the Bliss Sonata). In Paul Rivinius, he is joined by a pianist who listens with precision and also sits firmly in the saddle when in precarious situations. It is a great joy to listen to these two when they make music – the music of Bliss, Bax and also Vaughan-Williams is certainly well worth listening to.” ensemble, June/July 2013

“The listener gains access to expressive regions never before imagined by her or him, and Christian Euler’s energetic playing fully explores this new terrain. … The pleasure taken by these two soloists in these subtly ironic musical treats manifests itself at every turn and is enhanced in a special way on this three-dimensional SACD recording.” HRAudio.net, November 2013

“Le programme de ce disque nous démontre avec brio une étendue étonnante de possibilités expressives que Christian Euler maîtrise remarquablement. … Le tandemEuler/Rivinius s’entend à merveille dans des lectures cohérentes et engagées.” Blog »Passion Musique et Culture« Guy Sauvé, Février 2015

“If this new disc is anything to go by, the Sonatas by Bax and Bliss have not only travelled but also have struck home musically to these two outstanding musicians, for they receive quite superb performances by this Duo … It [Bliss’s Viola Sonata] really is a magnificent work, as Christian Euler and Paul Rivinius fully grasp in a performance of compelling artistry. … This is a most impressive and recommendable release.” Robert Matthew-Walker, INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW, July/August 2013

“… which Euler gives a long, impassioned reading in which the darker contours of his tone project forth with stunning force in the surround sound 5.1 configuration.” Laurence Vittes, Audiophile Audition, January 3, 2014

“Two large three-movement sonatas by Arthur Bliss and Arnold Bax as well as the chamber version of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Suite for Viola and Orchestra are introduced here. The distinguished viola virtuoso Christian Euler and the experienced pianist Paul Rivinius perform the complex major works with a flawless technique, and their interpretation of the Suite is also notable for its seriousness and attention to details of tempo and dynamics. The work by Vaughan Williams comes off best, for the structures are simple, the movements quite brief and not so diverse in their respective characters; thus this pastoral music finds expression beautifully in its reservedly elegiac, at times playfully communicative gestures. …” www.klassik-heute.com, 23 August 2013

“This is truly virtuoso music, what Arthur Bliss composed for the viola in 1933: the highest registers and speedy runs – challenges that Christian Euler masters with ease. In the other late-romantic works, too, the Kassel-born musician shows his brilliance, precisely supported by his partner at the piano, Paul Rivinius. The full, dark viola tone is brought out especially well in the Sonata by Arnold Bax, as is the humoristic talent of the viola in the Suite by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Not least, one can enthuse over the warm and detailed tone in the best SACD resolution. This is the best advertising for an underestimated instrument.” AUDIO, May 2013

“… Christian Euler emphatically dedicates himself to the common features and the differences between the pieces with great flexibility of tone and gesture. Accompanied by Paul Rivinius at the piano, his scale of expression is romantic, but it adds the characteristic traits of each composer. The Bliss Sonata reminds one of the brittle objectivity of a Paul Hindemith; through the inclusions of Celtic folklore, he gives the Bax work an aura of fantastic melancholy; and Vaughan Williams sounds at first like Christmas before the dancing begins.” Frankenpost, 7 October 2013

“With great cultivation and sensitivity, Christian Euler and the pianist Paul Rivinius emphatically and deliberately advocate three British viola sonatas from the first half of the past century, heard extremely rarely in Central Europe, by Arthur Bliss, Arnold Bax and Ralph Vaughan-Williams.” KLEINE ZEITUNG, 1 October 2013

 

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