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Viola Transcriptions

Robert Koenig Roberto Diaz , Primrose Audio CD

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1. Nocturne: Andante
2. Litany For All Soul's Day: Adagio
3. Marcia - Allegro
4. Adagio
5. Allegretto Alla Polacca
6. Traume: Lento
7. Huella: Movido Y Energico
8. Ao Pe Da Fogueira: Allegro Comodo
9. La Campanella
10. Bachianas Brasileriras No.5: Aria (Cantilena): Adagio
11. Adagietto From L'Arlesienne Suite No.1
12. Tango: Allegro Moderato
13. Polo: Allegro Moderato
14. Malaguena: Amabile
15. Zapateado: Allegro Moderato
16. None But The Lonely Heart
17. Wie Melodien Zieht Es Mir, No.105, No.1

Product Description

Product Description

Product Description

Nocturne : Andante (Borodine) - Litany for All Soul's Day : Adagio (Schubert) - Nocturne Op. 42 (Beethoven : Sérénade, Op. 8) - Träume : Lento (Wagner : Wesendonk Lieder n°5) - Huella : movido y energico (Aguirre/Heifetz) - Ao Pé da Fogueira: Allegro comodo (Valle/Heifetz) - La Campanella (Paganini : Concerto pour violon n°2)... / Roberto Díaz, alto - Robert Koenig, piano

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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All in the Family July 31 2006
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Although probably not a household name, Roberto Díaz is one of the best violists these days. He was principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra until recently and is the newly-appointed head of the Curtis Institute. Part of what makes this CD so interesting are the family connections involved. Díaz's father, the Chilean violist Manuel Díaz, was a one-time viola student of William Primrose, and was Roberto's first teacher (as Primrose's father was HIS teacher!). Further, the viola Díaz is playing on is Primrose's very own primary performing viola, one made by brothers Antonio and Hieronymus Amati in about 1600 and now owned by Díaz.

None of this would matter except for the music contained herein. It is a set of transcriptions for viola and piano made by Primrose for his own use in solo performances. As Amazon has not as of the date of this review listed those contents I will do so:

Borodin: Nocturne: Andante (from String Quartet No. 2)
Schubert: Litany for All Soul's Day: Adagio
Beethoven: Notturno, Op. 42 (arr. from the Serenade, Op. 8)
Wagner: 'Träume' (from the Wesendonck Lieder)
Aguirre/Heifetz: Huella: movido y energico
del Valle/Heifetz: Ao Pé da Fogueira: Allegro comodo
Paganini: La Campanella (fr. Violin Concerto No. 2)
Villa-Lobos: Aria from 'Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5'
Bizet: Adagietto from 'L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1'
Efrem Zimbalist: Sarasateana
Tchaikovsky: None but the Lonely Heart
Brahms: Wie Melodien zieht es mir

The Zimbalist is interesting for a couple of reasons. For one thing, Zimbalist is one of Díaz's predecessors as president of the Curtis Institute; the roster itself includes such distinguished musicians as Josef Hofmann, Randall Thompson, Efrem Zimbalist, Rudolf Serkin, John DeLancie, Gary Graffman. Second, the Zimbalist pieces are not strictly speaking Primrose transcriptions. Violinist Zimbalist had made his arrangement of the Paganini pieces for his own use, but when Primrose was teaching at Curtis he asked Zimbalist to arrange them for viola and that's how they came into being.

Highlights: The first track is an absolutely riveting performance of the justly admired Andante from Borodin's Second String Quartet, familiar to many as the basis of 'This is My Beloved' from 'Kismet.' In the original the ingratiating melody is played by the quartet's cellist, but here it is sung gorgeously by Díaz's viola, almost making one forget the original. The Paganini 'La Campanella' comes across as an almost new piece, with the plangent tones of the viola somehow transforming this familiar piece into something entirely different. Díaz's virtuosity really shines here.

I had a little problem with the transcription of the aria from 'Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5' if only because I can't hear it without wanting, rather, to hear the sound of a soprano and all those cellos in the original. As expert as the marvelous collaborative pianist Robert Koenig is, he can't supersede the sound of the celli, although that's not his fault. Díaz gives it a good performance, but he's no soprano!

If ever there was a song that cried out to be heard in the dusky and melancholy tones of the viola, it is 'None But the Lonely Heart.' My god, this is wonderful! It actually brought tears to my eyes! I also uttered a sigh at the beauty of the soulful rendition of the languorous Bizet 'Adagietto'.

Viola recordings aren't all that numerous and probably don't figure high on most record buyers' Want Lists, but this one qualifies for a strong recommendation. You won't be disappointed.

Scott Morrison
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Legend in Our Lifetime Dec 13 2007
By Robert C. Nimmich - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
It is as if, in his hands, his instrument has lungs and a tongue. He can sing and change timbre four times in one bow leaving one breathless! Flawless virtuosity, yet with soul. Roberto neither leaves you warn out from too much sentimentality, nor wanting for soul and musicality amid "so many notes."

We have the making of a legend in our own time. This recording is priceless.

-Robert C Nimmich
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Viola CD! Dec 28 2008
By Donald G. Hite III - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This CD is really a treat for any viola fan!

Diaz is a great player, and the pieces on this CD provide enough variety that his technical and musical gifts can really shine through. There are many "song-like" pieces that are more lyrical in nature. The Borodin and the Brahms are two of my personal favorites, as well as the Wagner. Diaz has a rich sound which is sweet and not overly nasal or shrill in the upper register.

What I personally like about this disc is the more virtuoso pieces. As a violist with major violin envy, I frequently try to play violin pieces on the viola, often only to be disappointed by the fact that many things that violins do just don't work on the viola (due to it's relative lack of responsiveness, etc). I think violas are in desperate need of virtuoso music, but it can be a challenge find pieces that work on the viola (rather than just sounded like flawed, clunkier versions of their violin counterpart). I think the Paganini works beautifully (despite the amazon reviewers statement that it sounds labored). While the technique can't be thrown off with the same effortlessness that a violinist does, the piece sounds at home on the viola, managing to showcase it's huskiness without allowing it to become a hindrance. The Zimbalist pieces are the same. They contain a mixture of more lyrical movements and faster music as well. I love the last movement.

The amazon review had issue with the Beethoven transcription, but it seems to work fine to me.

The only piece that I take minor issue with is the Villa-Lobos. I just don't really see why this piece would be transcribed for the viola... I see only two reasons to transcribe a piece. 1) It's such good music that it would work well for any instrument/ensemble or 2) it's particularly well suited for instrument you are transcribing it for. I don't really see the Villa-Lobos fulfilling either of these... I personally don't find the music all that brilliant and it's certainly not better suited to the viola than it is in it's original form with soprano and cellos. In fact, while this is fine music, i've always thought the majority of its appeal was based on the novelty of its instrumentation... The piece can work in transcription... Clara Rockmore does a brilliant version on theremin with cellos (this is an example of a piece that is brilliantly suited to the theremin). Getting back to the viola version, I would say the middle section seems more natural than the outer sections (largely because the writing is more pianistic here... I find the piano in the outer sections a little "plunky"... the pizzicato cello lines don't translate well to piano in my opinion...). I think if I just heard this piece and didn't know it was a transcription, I'd probably have no problems with it. However, knowing it's a transcriptions seems to beg the question: why this piece? and why for the viola?

In the end, this is a great CD with short, fun viola pieces, played by an excellent violist. Enjoy!
5.0 out of 5 stars Viola June 9 2012
By Billy Batson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Bought this for a gift. My friend is learning viola and she really enjoys this cd. It has inspired her to practice more.
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Nov. 15 2010
By Anja Pitsker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I have just switched from playing violin for many years to playing viola now. For that reason I have recently been gathering viola recordings. This one I like especially for the sound of William Primrose's beautiful Amati viola and the skill and musicality of Roberto Diaz playing it. The sound of the instrument enchants me! The pieces themselves are quite pleasant. The one that stands out as my favorite is the Sarasateana, a collection of four of Pablo de Sarasate's Spanish Dances rewritten by the violinist Efrem Zimbalist and then transcribed by Zimbalist for the viola at Primrose's request. They are beautiful pieces of music as well as some of the most virtuosic viola music I know of. With Roberto Diaz playing them they become simply enchanting.

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