Roger Chase’s training with Bernard Shore at the Royal College of Music, London, afforded him invaluable contact with the elderly Lionel Tertis, Shore’s own teacher. There is a strong British element to Chase’s concert programming and discography, including many works arranged by, or with connections to, Tertis and Shore. In 2007 Chase embarked upon the ‘Tertis Project’, presenting in a series of concerts works written for Tertis by important twentieth-century British composers, and performing on Tertis’s beloved 171/8-inch Montagnana viola.
Chase’s performing interests encompass folk music (on amplified viola), period performance, standard solo repertoire and the avant-garde: interests he has pursued both as a soloist and with such groups as the Nash Ensemble, London Sinfonietta, Esterhazy Baryton Trio, Hausmusik of London and the London Chamber Orchestra. He is also an active teacher, having worked with the Royal College of Music and Guildhall School in London, the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, Oberlin College, Ohio and Roosevelt University, Illinois.
Chase’s discography includes some interesting music by British composers (Bax, Bliss, Rubbra, Benjamin Dale, Stanley Bate) and others with Tertis connections. Alwyn’s Sonata Impromptu and Ballade (2006) both demonstrate well his pleasingly straightforward, uncomplicated tone which nonetheless has clarity, depth and resonance. The Ballade is a world première recording. His 2007 Brahms Op. 120 Sonatas (using Tertis’s revisions, which restore some of the higher tessitura removed by Brahms when transcribing the original clarinet works for viola) are rather ponderous, especially according to current historically-informed practices. The little Scherzo by Shore (also 2007), is a charming encore piece balancing a conventionally melodic middle section with outer passages of great nimbleness that demonstrate an interestingly soft, flaky staccato bow stroke. Chase’s recording note suggests that Shore was at the tail end of a tradition of string players who also composed. He recalls: ‘Shore whispered to me after I played the Scherzo at his eightieth birthday concert, “Thank you, I never dared play it m’self!”
In Enescu’s Konzertstück and Paganini’s Sonata per la gran viola (2007) Chase’s virtuosity is well displayed. In the latter capricious piece, often mischievously humorous and extrovert in character (like much of Paganini’s music), he shows an impressive command of left-hand pizzicato, extended positions and multiple stopping.
There is a rounded quality to Chase’s tone, exploiting resonance rather than over-glossing the sound with too much vibrato, making his playing, two generations on, a fitting memorial to the influence of Lionel Tertis.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Milsom (A–Z of String Players, Naxos 8.558081-84)
|A TO Z OF STRING PLAYERS
|ALWYN: Sonata impromptu / Sonatina / Ballade / Rhapsody / 3 Winter Poems / Songs
|Chamber Music, Instrumental
|Viola Recital: Chase, Roger - BENJAMIN, A. / ENESCU, G. / KODALY, Z. / JONGEN, J. / VIEUXTEMPS, H. / PAGANINI, N. / KREISLER, F. (The Virtuoso Viola)
|Instrumental, Concertos, Chamber Music, Instrumental|