September 12, 2019
The Strad: Album Review

The Strad Issue: April 2019
Description: It’s up, up and away for this programme of viola music
Musicians: Matthew Lipman (viola) Henry Kramer (piano)
Works: BOWEN Phantasy op. 54 ASSAD Metamorfose SCHUMANN Märchenbilder op.113 KNOX Fuga libre for solo viola SHOSTAKOVICH Impromptu WAXMAN Carmen Fantasy
Catalogue Number: CEDILLE CDR 90000 184

From the first unaccompanied phrases of York Bowen’s Phantasy, Matthew Lipman commands attention with his authoritative phrasing and attractive sound on a 1700 Matteo Gofriller viola.

The Phantasy’s various sections are nicely characterised, both players – Henry Kramer a most empathetic collaborator – displaying a light touch in the scherzando sections before they let rip in in the Rachmaninoff-like climax.

Clarice Assad’s composition follows on logically, her sound world having grown from essentially the same roots while transcending them through unorthodox instrumental techniques; the composer’s Brazilian background shines through in the final, buoyant Dance of the Butterflies.

This is a first recording, and another one is at hand with Shostakovich’s recently rediscovered Impromptu, a two-minute morsel that Lipman dispatches in an appropriately heart-on-sleeve manner.

Schumann’s Märchenbilder are a much more crowded field – within the past few months I have been profoundly moved by the deep-delving, emotionally overwhelming interpretations of Tabea Zimmermann and Jürg Dähler – but Lipman makes an excellent showing with his dark-hued reading, complete with baying ‘horns’ and menacing spiccato, and capped by a flowing cradle song.

Garth Knox’s Fuga libre becomes a kaleidoscope of variegated timbres, crystal-clear harmonics and a wealth of ponticello sounds. While not a ‘first recording on viola’ as pitched, Waxman’s Carmen Fantasy makes for a rousing conclusion to this most impressive, well recorded and lovingly presented recital.

CARLOS MARÍA SOLARE

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