Listen: Music for Viola

Listen: Music for Viola
A Purple "Pensamiento" Viola
© Photo Credit Chrishonduras
On April 24, 2016, violist Paul Neubauer gave the world premiere of Joan Tower's solo work Purple Rush on his "The Romantic Viola" concert at New York City's Alice Tully Hall. Neubauer describes Purple Rush as "a scurrying downward swirl." He says, "it goes low and dusky, with cascades of notes and shimmering, slippery slides." Commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, this solo work joins Tower's series of viola pieces that includes Simply Purple (2008), Purple Rhapsody (2005), and Wild Purple (1998). Explaining her association of the color purple with the instrument, Tower said, "I have always thought of the viola (which I played briefly) as having this deep kind of rich purple sound, a beautiful timbre, quite distinct from other string instrument sounds."

In honor of Tower's premiere, this week's playlist highlights music for viola, starting with Tower’s piece Wild Purple, which was also written for Neubauer. Next you will hear Aaron Jay Kernis’ Still Movement with Hymn, Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, Missy Mazzoli’s Tooth and Nail for viola and pre-recorded electronics, and Darius Milhaud’s gracefully melodic 4 Visages No. 1, 2, 3 and 4.

"I like to work with performers. I was a performer for a long time and I know their problems. A piece of music is a two-way street. It's a performer and a composer, and I think the two have to work together to create this thing." — Joan Tower

Music for Viola

Note: Schnittke’s Concerto for Viola and Orchestra is available for hire in the USA, Canada and Mexico only.

This playlist was contributed by Liam Alves

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