Chamber works with viola by Bowen, Imogen Holst, Britten
This chamber music album spotlights the impressive skills of violist Yue Yu. A rising star in her native China and beyond, she makes her Naxos debut with this recording. The programme showcases lesser-known works that feature viola by three 20th-century English composers, including several arrangements of originals for cello and violin that testify to the instrument's versatility.
Yue Yu, Viola • Jeffrey Armstrong, Violin • Anthony Hewitt, Piano
An accomplished horn and viola player, York Bowen is said to have preferred the tone of the viola to the violin. Inspired by the virtuosity and vibrato style of the distinguished violist, Lionel Tertis, Bowen wrote several works for him and became his accompanist. Bowen’s subtle shifts of key and heartfelt melodies are well in evidence here, including the powerful and poised Rhapsody, Op. 149, considered to be one of his most important works. Gustav Holst’s daughter Imogen is represented here by the open-air freshness of her Four Easy Pieces and the terse, laconic narrative of her Duo for Viola and Piano. Britten’s spiky Waltz is full of 1930s wit.
Listen to an extract from Bowen’s Rhapsody in G Minor, Op. 149
About the Artists
Chinese violist Yue Yu is the winner of the 2021 Salzburg Paul Hindemith Viola Concorso. Having completed her bachelor’s studies at the UK's Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, she subsequently embarked on a master’s degree at the Univeristät Mozarteum Salzburg in Austria with Professor Thomas Riebl. Yue currently plays a modern viola by French luthier Antoine Gourdon, which won the Paris 2016 Renaud Stahl International Viola Making Prize; her bow is a golden mounted French bow by Pierre Guillaume.
Award-winning British pianist Anthony Hewitt has performed internationally with leading European orchestras and at prestigious UK venues that include London's Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall and Purcell Room, and Birmingham's Symphony Hall. Hewitt founded the Ulverston International Music Festival in 2004 and currently serves on the faculty of the UK's Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
Born in South Africa, violinist Jeffrey Armstrong was awarded first prize at the 2021 UNISA National Strings Competition and has performed as soloist with South Africa's major orchestras. He is a frequent guest concertmaster with Hanover's Ensemble Geräuschkulisse and recently founded the Cape Chamber Music Collective.
‘Both technically and musically, these are exceptional accounts, with Dukes producing the most alluring sound throughout the register, counterpointed by Sophia Rahman's beguiling pianism and Michael Ponter's exemplary engineering. Another Naxos winner.’ – The Strad