Rebecca Jones graduated with distinction from the Royal Northern Collage of Music winning various scholarships and prizes, and has been successful in national and international competitions. She has recently completed study at the Universität Mozarteum at Salzburg where she was a pupil of Thomas Ribel, and has been in receipt of an award from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.
Rebecca plays on a viola bought by the Myra Hess Trust
and has particular interest in chamber music, performing with the Callino
Quartet in engagements at Prague and Budapest. The Callino Quartet has
also joined with the renowned Belcea Quartet in recent performance of
the Mendelssohn Octet. She has also performed as principal viola with
Gretel Dowdeswell (Piano)
Last minute replacement for Abigail Richards
MÄRCHENBILDER (Fairy Tales) op.113 Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
1. Nicht schnell
Robert Schumann's life was increasingly permeated by ill health. Towards the end of his life, his bouts of depression led to schizophrenia and mental breakdown, eventually leading to his attempted suicide. However, between these episodes of serious illness Schumann penned some of his most exquisite works, many of these being chamber pieces of great originality and charm such as these Märchenbilder pieces for viola.
Occasionally heard with the accompaniment of strings, and sometimes in an arrangement for cello, these miniatures are in every way characteristic of this romantic composer's ability to evoke powerful atmospheres and lasting impressions.
The whimsical and evocative opening melody of the first piece stays in the listener's memory long after the work has finished.
The powerful and heavily accented second movement is followed by a busy and dramatic toccata-like third movement - a real technical tour-de-force for the viola!
The final movement, in which Schumann asks for an expression of "slow melancholy", invokes a dream-like world of uncanny peace and tranquillity of almost Brahms-like quality. There is little evidence of the mental turmoil of the composer's personal life here. The work ends in quiet reflection.
For those acquainted with Schumann's popular song cycles
of his earlier years, the style of this music may strike a familiar
chord. The lines and textures, especially in the outer movements, allow
the viola to 'sing' with a richness and warmth of tone that is typical
of the composer and utterly irresistible.
VIOLA SONATA Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979)
Impetuoso - poco agitato
Rebecca Clarke was born in Harrow, England, and was a highly respected viola player. She was a pupil of the great violist, Lionel Tertis with whom she studied at the Royal College of Music. She eventually became a member of the Queens Hall Orchestra - one of the first female musicians to do so.
Clarke was encouraged in her composition by Stanford, and in 1916 she moved to the United States to further her career as a composer. This Sonata for viola dates from 1919 and is a valuable inclusion in the soloist's repertoire, now being fairly frequently performed in recitals for the instrument. It has three movements, the final of which is in many contrasted sections. The musical language of Debussy is a strong influence in this work, containing as it does some lush textures and bold modernistic harmonies.
The Sonata was first performed at the Berkshire music
festival and was written at the height of her career as a composer.
Clarke produced a great many early songs (many unpublished), and in
the 1920s she also wrote a small number of finely-crafted chamber works,
many featuring the viola. However, she practically ceased composition
in the 1940s, partly from a chronic form of depression, and partly in
order to devote herself to family life.
LACHRYMAE Benjamin Britten
Britten is a composer who frequently wrote with particular performers in mind, and almost entirely for performance on specific occasions. He claimed not to write for posterity but "to please people today and to let the future look after itself." The future has given its verdict on his music. The sheer variety and originality of his numerous compositions have universally delighted performers and listeners alike.
The artist for whom Britten wrote his Lachrymae for viola in 1950 was the renowned viola soloist William Primrose, a former section leader in Toscanini's NBC Orchestra. The viola and piano were both instruments that Britten played himself, and the work incorporates many advanced techniques for the soloist. A later arrangement with string accompaniment was published in 1976.
This unusual piece is basically a series of variations based on the song If my Complaints could Passions Move by the sixteenth-century English composer John Dowland. It is only towards the end of this remarkable piece that we hear the full original theme in Dowland's own harmonisation.
However, this was not the only time that Britten was moved to write works based upon Dowland's music. In 1964, the famous lutenist and guitarist Julian Bream gave the first performance of Britten's Nocturnal after John Dowland built on the theme of the earlier composer's song Come Heavy Sleep.
SONATA IN F MINOR OP 120 Johannes Brahms
Brahms originally wrote two late sonatas for clarinet and piano. The first, this Sonata in F minor, we hear tonight in a version for viola. Both clarinet sonatas were first performed in 1894 by Brahms' friend, the virtuoso Richard Mühlfeld, with the composer at the piano.
Following this first performance, Brahms is known to have corresponded with another close friend, the famous violinist Joachin, suggesting that, with minimal alteration, the Sonatas would be equally suitable for performance on the viola. Today both Sonatas are given as many recordings and performances on this instrument as on the clarinet. With only a very few octave changes to the solo part, Brahms has achieved a surprisingly similar range of musical colour and texture with both instruments.
The piano throughout is a real 'duo' partner to the viola - not a mere accompanist. As in Schumann's Märchenbilder (played at the start of our concert) the opening viola melody in the first movement Allegro appassionato is a beautiful romantic theme around which much of this movement's later music is based.
The long viola melody which opens the second movement,Andante, is a simple tune delightfully decorated, which acts as a prelude to one of the loveliest extended instrumental 'songs' that Brahms ever wrote.
By contrast, the third movement, Allegretto, is a lively and spirited Viennese waltz, totally relaxed and of great charm.
The finale movement, Vivace, is a fast Rondo. In spite
of the Sonata's minor key, this movement's engaging passage work for
both instruments is breathtaking and it brings this joyful and colourful
work to a fitting and satisfying end.
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