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The burnished, golden sonorities of the viola – the “forgotten stepsister” to the violin – are all too seldom heard in chamber compositions. Viola virtuoso supreme Spencer Martin and Delos seek to redress this injustice with “Forgotten Gems,” a collection of lovely and beautifully crafted works for viola and piano from four little-known composers of the late-romantic era … works that definitely deserve to be restored to the sadly limited repertoire of chamber music for the viola.
The program features lush and varied sonatas by fairly obscure composers, including Russian-born Paul Juon – who has been called the “Russian Brahms.” On that subject, the often “abrasive” and hard-to-please Brahms held the music of Austrian notable Robert Fuchs in very high regard. There’s also striking music from Englishman Ernest Walker – plus a touching Romance by Benjamin Dale, another British composer.
Martin brings these luscious and fascinating works work to vibrant life, with deft and sensitive collaboration from pianist Miko Kominami. While these works will be of particular interest to viola players and fans, the sterling qualities of the music and performances alike make this recording a must-hear experience for mainstream aficionados of romantic-era chamber music – especially those who thought they knew all of the good stuff!
Paul Juon: Viola Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 15
II. Adagio assai e molto cantabile
III. Allegro moderato
Ernest Walker: Viola Sonata in C major, Op. 29
I. Andante, sempre largamente, quasi un poco adagio