A memorable rarity

Aldeburgh Festival, Tabea Zimmermann, Aldeburgh Church, June 16. A complete recital for unaccompanied viola is a rare event, and one such as Tabea Zimmerman, one of the great virtuosi of the instrument, gave on Tuesday, was an especially memorable one.

Aldeburgh Festival, Tabea Zimmermann, Aldeburgh Church, June 16.

A complete recital for unaccompanied viola is a rare event, and one such as Tabea Zimmerman, one of the great virtuosi of the instrument, gave on Tuesday, was an especially memorable one.

Before the twentieth century there is a dearth of original music for the viola, and performers have mostly to rely on transcriptions. Zimmermann began and ended her recital with music by Bach, begining with the Sonata No.2 in A minor , originally for violin, and ending with the Suite No. 2, originally for cello.

In between came an eclectic selection of the twentieth century viola repertoire. Stravinsky's Elegie of 1944 is dedicated to the memory of the leader of the Pro Arte Quatet. Performed muted throughout, its three sections- Prelude, Fugue and Postlude- echo classical forms, while Britten's short Elegy of 1930, written just after he left Gresham's School, is a wistful reflection of his time there.


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The beauty of Zimmermann's sound captured perfectly the bittersweet atmosphere of both these works to perfection and her flawless technique was in evidence in the Sonata by Bernd Alois Zimmermann, its twelve short continuous sections based on a Lutheran chorale, and in three pieces by Gyorgy Kurtag; exquisite miniatures, the second of which is dedicated to her. Both these works make strenuous demands on the performer, but what makes Zimmermann's performances so memorable is her ability to convey the essence of the music so easily.

Nowhere was this seen to better effect than in the Bach with which began an ended her recital: music which flowed so easily, and with such expression that it sounded like some magical improvisation.

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Frank Cliff

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