English Music for Viola

English Music for Viola

Paul Coletti (viola), Leslie Howard (piano)


There is something about the viola’s quality of sound which conjures up stirring emotions and dark-hued feelings. It has always been associated with mournful, elegiac music, and even William Walton’s extrovert concerto, a landmark in the history of the repertoire for the instrument, has more than a touch of the reflective about it, especially in the first movement. Yet it is this very quality of reflectiveness which, more than anything, leads us to associate the instrument with that early twentieth-century Englishness, the period of fin de siècle heart-on-the-sleeve so roundly written off by Elizabeth Lutyens in her memorable phrase ‘cowpat music’—a gross generalization which has found sympathy in some quarters but which recordings like the present one do much to correct.

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