Superb souvenir of a master musician
klavierspiel | TX, USA | 09/23/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The violist William Primrose is one of the great figures of twentieth-century string playing, a towering figure for whom works were created on the order of Bartok's Viola Concerto. The present recording is a document that catches Primrose at his peak, in three major works for viola and orchestra and several shorter transcriptions and arrangements. The Casadesus Concerto is the oddity, one of the products of an early twentieth-century fashion for Baroque pastiches that also resulted in the portfolio of "ancient" compositions by Fritz Kreisler. Heard today it is hard to imagine anyone being fooled into thinking the piece was really by Handel, but it is an appealing work all the same, especially played as well as it is here. The Walton and Vaughan Williams are mainstays of the viola repertory, solid, substantial works. The remainder of the disc reminds one that transcriptions and arrangements by great performers are one of the principal means by which the repertoire of an instrument is expanded.
Some of the Primrose recordings currently circulating are from after his best playing years, but that is certainly not the case with these performances--the intonation is true, the tone strong and vibrant, the musicianship authoritative. The sound is representative of the period in which these recordings were made and eminently listenable. This is a great document of a great musician.
NOTE: One small but annoying drawback of this issue, at least on my CD copy: the "Handel" and Walton concertos do not have track cues between separate movements."