Touch Harmonious: Music for Solo Viola | Planetworks ICR018

Touch Harmonious: Music for Solo Viola


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Label: Planetworks

Cat No: ICR018

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Instrumental

Release Date: 11th December 2020



A collection of new and old, Touch Harmonious celebrates a living musical tradition stretching from the Baroque to the present, seen through the singular gaze of a solo viola.

The new and recent music on this recording is inspired from a connection to the Baroque era. The title of Anna Clyne's Rest These Hands is taken from a poem written by her mother in the final year of her life and the melismatic middle section of the piece reveals a quote from the Presto of Bach's Violin Sonata in G minor, BWV 1001. Dana Lyn's endlessly I would have walked draws from a close study of traditional counterpoint and her own deeply personal relationship to the solo string music of Bach as a violinist and violist.

Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky's Short Epitaph (no relationship to Johnson's) is based on a La Folia, a progression likely born in the Renaissance but popularized in the Baroque era by luminaries such as Lully, Marais, and Vivaldi. Benjamin Britten's towering Third Suite for Solo Cello from 1971 honours the heritage of the work's dedicatee, Mstislav Rostropovich, by using three Russian songs from Tchaikovsky's volumes of arrangements as well as the Russian Orthodox Kontakion, or the Hymn to the Departed, as thematic material.

From the period itself is a harmonically beguiling Prelude from the viola da gamba virtuoso Carl Friedrich Abel, the aforementioned and luminous Cello Suite no.1 of Bach, and, in a nod to the richness of the era's vocal tradition, an iconic aria from Handel's Rinaldo.

Each work on this recording reveals a complex narrative upon investigation; Handel's Lascia ch'io pianga is broadly emblematic for Touch Harmonious. Its lyric 'Let me weep over my cruel fate, and that I should have freedom...' poignantly resonates today where so many of us have had to grapple with isolation and distance. Music is an amazingly resilient source of strength in part because of the deep web of connections that it both draws upon and encodes.

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