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Track(s) taken from CDA67687

Rhapsody for viola and orchestra

1946/8; on Hungarian Folk Tunes harmonized by Béla Bartók; the themes are taken from Bartók's piano cycle For Children

Lawrence Power (viola), Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Andrew Litton (conductor)
Recording details: August 2009
Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon & Gunnar Herleif Nilsen
Release date: October 2010
Total duration: 8 minutes 54 seconds

Cover artwork: Fall, 1981 by Tamas Galambos (b1939)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'[Rózsa] Everything comes across with maximum impact—Power's agility at speed, his warm 'walnut' tone, and the innate musicality of his phrasing. Andrew Litton is in total command of every aspect of the score, inspiring his Bergen players to a performance that's dramatic, incisive and atmospheric. The Bartók concerto is presented in Serly's familiar completion and again, there's an urgency about the playing that is offset by a profoundly poetic response to the work's many lyrical episodes, especially the central Adagio religioso. Litton has a keen ear for detail and Andrew Keener's engineering team supports him with sound that is both transparent and full-bodied' (Gramophone)

'Listening to Lawrence Power's committed performance of both works leaves one grappling for reasons for the comparative neglect of the Rózsa … Power delivers a highly charged account of the solo part maximising emotional contrasts in the music to an even greater extent than the impressive Gilad Karni on a rival Naxos disc. The Bartók is equally compelling' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Power’s supreme artistry fuels performances of works by composers who are linked. Serly, who edited Bartók’s Viola Concerto, is given the limelight in his Rhapsody, and the spicy concerto by Rózsa makes for a pungent coupling. All are energised by the orchestra’s vigour' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Power is a much more full-toned soloist in the Bartók concerto than some of his predecessors … his tonal control is magnificent, wide-ranging with not a trace of throatiness even at the top of the range, and his technical command is the next best thing to flawless … it seems unlikely that the solo line here has ever been quite this beautifully shaped. The Bergen Philharmonic under Andrew Litton … acquits itself admirably, with finely shaped solo lines, blended sectional playing and ample bite in the tuttis where required' (International Record Review)

'The viola soars into wide-ranging beauty in Lawrence Power's expert hands … Power really makes his viola throb in Bartók's dark-hued unfinished concerto' (The Times)

'Here's a wonderfully imaginative piece of record programming … [Rózsa] This piece derseves to become the viola player's answer to the Korngold Violin Concerto. The superb accounts of the Bartók concerto and Serly's short yet compelling Rhapsody only enhance this set's desirability' (The Sunday Times)

'Lawrence Power plays all three pieces with big-toned, fibre-rich advocacy' (The Irish Times)
When Bartók and his wife arrived in New York as refugees in 1940, Serly greeted them at the docks, and through the remainder of Bartók’s life spent much of his time supporting and visiting the older composer. In addition to his completions of Bartók’s Viola Concerto and Third Piano Concerto, he also arranged and edited several other Bartók scores (including a suite from the collection of piano pieces Mikrokosmos), and lost few opportunities to proselytize on behalf of the music of his great elder compatriot. As a result Serly’s own music—his works include two symphonies, a viola concerto (composed in 1929), a concerto for violin and wind instruments, chamber and vocal compositions—has tended to be overshadowed by his advocacy of Bartók. In a sense his Rhapsody for viola and orchestra also dwells within that shadow. It was composed in 1946–8: just at the time, therefore, when Serly was working on his realization of Bartók’s Viola Concerto. And its subtitle is, in fact, Rhapsody on Hungarian Folk Tunes harmonized by Béla Bartók; for the themes are taken from some of the folksong transcriptions that appear in Bartók’s piano cycle For Children. Serly sets them skilfully within interludes and elaborate decoration, and gives the overall conception a purposeful shape, with a rollicking finale.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2010

Lorsque Bartók et sa femme se sont réfugiés à New York en 1940, Serly les a accueillis au débarcadère et, jusqu’à la fin de la vie de Bartók, il a passé une grande partie de son temps à soutenir et à rendre visite à son aîné. Il a non seulement achevé le Concerto pour alto et le Troisième Concerto pour piano de Bartók, mais il a aussi arrangé et édité plusieurs autres partitions de Bartók (notamment une suite du recueil de pièces pour piano Mikrokosmos) et n’a guère manqué une occasion de faire du prosélytisme en faveur de la musique de son illustre aîné. La propre musique de Serly—ses œuvres comprennent deux symphonies, un concerto pour alto (composé en 1929), un concerto pour violon et instruments à vent, de la musique de chambre et des œuvres vocales—a donc été relativement éclipsée par son plaidoyer en faveur de Bartók. En un sens, sa Rhapsodie pour alto et orchestre demeure aussi dans cette ombre. Il l’a composée en 1946–48: donc, juste à l’époque où il travaillait à sa réalisation du Concerto pour alto de Bartók. En fait, son titre complet est Rhapsodie sur des airs traditionnels hongrois harmonisés par Béla Bartók; car les thèmes sont empruntés aux transcriptions de chansons traditionnelles qui apparaissent dans le cycle pour piano de Bartók Pour les enfants. Serly les insère habilement au sein d’interludes et d’une décoration élaborée, tout en donnant à la conception de l’ensemble une forme résolue avec un finale exubérant.

extrait des notes rédigées par Calum MacDonald © 2010
Français: Marie-Stella Pâris

Als Bartók und seine Frau 1940 als Flüchtlinge in New York ankamen, begrüßte Serly sie im Hafen und er unterstützte und besuchte den älteren Komponisten bis zu dessen Tod. Neben seiner Fertigstellung des Bratschenkonzerts und des Dritten Klavierkonzerts Bartóks arrangierte und edierte er noch weitere Werke des Komponisten (darunter eine Suite aus dem Klavierzyklus Mikrokosmos) und verpasste kaum eine Gelegenheit, für die Musik seines großen älteren Zeitgenossen zu missionieren. Das hatte zum Ergebnis, dass Serlys eigene Werke—darunter befinden sich zwei Symphonien, ein Bratschenkonzert (das 1929 entstand), ein Konzert für Violine und Blasinstrumente, Kammer- und Vokalmusik—durch sein Eintreten für Bartók überschattet wurden. In gewisser Weise befindet sich seine Rhapsodie für Bratsche und Orchester auch in diesem Schatten. Sie entstand 1946–48—genau zu der Zeit, als Serly das Bratschenkonzert von Bartók ausarbeitete. Und der vollständige Titel lautet zudem „Rhapsodie über ungarische Volksmelodien, harmonisiert von Béla Bartók“, da die Themen aus einigen der Volksliedtranskriptionen stammen, die in Bartóks Klavierzyklus Für Kinder verarbeitet sind. Serly kombiniert sie geschickt mit Zwischenspielen und kunstvollen Verzierungen und verleiht dem Ganzen eine wohl überlegte Form mit einem ausgelassenen Finale.

aus dem Begleittext von Calum MacDonald © 2010
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

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