1919 - Viola Sonatas
It is difficult to find a thread to join any free standing works for viola; but that its sound has always seemed particularly well-suited to the between-the-wars, art deco period has provided Barbara Buntrock with a perfect opportunity. ‘1919’ links three sonatas only inasmuch as that they were written in that year; from all other aspects they are vastly different, which presents a fascinating programme.
From the earthy cross-rhythms in the second movement of the Sonata by Rebecca Clarke to the beautiful parallel shifts in its Adagio, to the subversive beauty of the Hindemith, Buntrock has a keen sense of the contrasting personalities of these pieces. Hindemith didn’t want to be overtly Romantic in this period of his compositional life, yet Buntrock and Heide’s performance effectively outs him: the Sonata is a particularly honest work that came during a period of rebirth, so its depth is to be found in its honesty, as well as its skilful economy of language. The Bloch, however, requires less subtlety of thought, being the manifestation of his imaginings of an ancient culture he was never to see. Buntrock plays each with a different tone, colour and depth that displays a mastery of the instrument on a deeply intimate level.
Heide’s accompaniment is sensitive and supportive but it is Buntrock who is the star of the show here, if only for bringing to the Clarke Sonata the attention it deserves.