Dedicated to the cellist Adolphe Fischer, the early Lied
for solo cello and small orchestra, like the Choral varié
, exists in an alternative version for solo viola. There are two main themes, the first in B flat major, marked Andantino non troppo, lyrically expansive and characterized by a tritone interval; the second in G minor, plus animé, is, by contrast, simple and folk-like. In the course of their subsequent developments, the first theme emerges very gently on the viola to a background of rustling strings, reminiscent of Siegfried’s ‘forest murmurs’. But it is the rustic second theme that receives the most imaginative treatment—played on high strings in double octaves with woodwind chirrupings in an astonishing texture which anticipates Ravel, and later, in viola harmonics accompanied by two flutes in the remote key of E minor. In the final B flat major coda, a brief series of solo harmonics rises towards the ether.
from notes by Andrew Thomson © 2009