The British viola player Lawrence Power continues to be acclaimed as one of the greatest performers of today. Together with Hyperion he is recording all of the seminal twentieth-century works for the viola.
Of the three Hungarian works for viola and orchestra on this latest release, the best-known is Bartók’s viola concerto, completed after the composer’s death by Tibor Serly. Serly was Bartók’s most constant and trusted Hungarian musician-friend in his last years in the USA. William Primrose (who edited the viola part himself) was able to premiere Serly’s recension of the music on 2 December 1949, with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Antal Dorati. Almost immediately it was recognized as one of the major contributions to the small literature of concertos for the viola, and has been a cornerstone of the instrument’s repertoire ever since.
Serly’s own Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra dwells somewhat within Bartók’s shadow, but is nevertheless a skilful and elaborate work with a rollocking finale. The disc is completed by a modern viola concerto by the film composer Miklós Rózsa. The overall impression of the work is individual, darkly Romantic, and authentically Hungarian in inspiration.