Viola Dolorosa

Music by Peter Seabourne and Benjamin Britten
Record Label
Sheva Contemporary
SH 137

Viola: Georg Hamann
Klavier: Akari Komiya

The tone quality of the viola seems uniquely suited to music of an elegaic nature, and has been seen as such by a line of 20th and 21st century English composers. This beautiful CD pairs an important work by the living composer Peter Seabourne with two by Benjamin Britten.

Seabourne's Pietà, like many of his works, takes inspiration from the other arts. In this case the statues of Michelangelo. The haunting face of Nicodemus in the Firenze Pietà remained a striking memory for the composer. On the death of his parents it offered a suitable stimulus for a piece in their memory.

Pietà is a large scale, five movement work, which takes a journey from a melancholy "rocking to sleep", though questions, a song of mourning, and a violent protest towards final resignation and laying to rest. It closes with a poignant "Good Night", quoting from Janacek.

The two Britten pieces span his lifetime. The childhood Elegy, reconstructed after he composer's death, already shows a mastery of line and a precocious technique. The later Lachrymae conjures a sense of scale and grandeur within a relatively compact structure. This is based round a set of variations on a song by the Renaissance composer, John Dowland.

Georg Hamann, a widely respected professor of viola in Vienna, is joined by a rising young Japanese talent, Akari Komiya. They produce here outstanding performances of enormous emotional variety and power. This disc is a true journey of the soul!