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William Primrose: Viola Transcriptions


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Audio CD, July 25, 2006
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William Primrose: Viola Transcriptions + Sonatas for Viola & Piano + Viola Concertos
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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The comparative paucity of the viola repertoire, especially of the romantic period, has made violists expert poachers in the literature of others. William Primrose, one of the greatest violists of his or any other time, was a prolific, skillful transcriber. He said he was motivated by the desire to showcase his instrument's underrated potential and his own prodigious technique, and also by envy - of cellists, singers, and especially violinists: in the transcriptions on this record, much of the writing is so stratospheric that the viola becomes a would-be violin. Diaz is a superb, brilliant violist and negotiates the top register easily, but it still sometimes sounds shrill and unnatural, especially since he tends to become aggressive in the chords and double stops. He is at his best in the slow, singing pieces; they most effectively display his warm, pure, variable tone and expressive eloquence, which never becomes sentimental. The program includes Borodin's "Nocturne" from the string quartet, with the viola playing the cello part, and songs by Schubert, Wagner, Brahms and Tchaikovsky, all played with simplicity and elegance. In Villa-Lobos' Brasileiras, the viola takes the soprano part, leaving the piano to impersonate eight cellos. Only the transcription of Beethoven's "Notturno" Op. 42, arranged from the String Trio Op. 8, doesn't work; the distribution of the music between the instruments is uneven and unbalanced. Among the bravura pieces, Paganini's "La Campanella" seems unsuited to the viola and sounds labored, but two Spanish dances, transcriptions of transcriptions by Heifetz, have a fine idiomatic flavor, as does Efrem Zimbalist's Suite "Sarasateana" - that demonstration of how to make famously difficult virtuoso pieces even more difficult - in his own transcription for Primrose. Pianist Robert Koenig is a splendid partner. --Edith Eisler

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. String Quartet No. 2 in D major: III. Nocturne (arr. W. Primrose) 6:24$0.89  Buy MP3 
  2. Am Tage aller Seelen, D. 343, "Litanei auf das Fest aller Seelen" (arr. W. Primrose): Litanei auf das Fest aller Seelen, D. 343 (arr. W. Primrose) 4:24$0.89  Buy MP3 
  3. Notturno in D major, Op. 42: I. Marcia - Allegro 2:17$0.89  Buy MP3 
  4. Notturno in D major, Op. 42: II. Adagio 7:12$0.89  Buy MP3 
  5. Notturno in D major, Op. 42: III. Allegretto alla polacca 3:12$0.89  Buy MP3 
  6. 5 Gedichte fur eine Frauenstimme, "Wesendonck Lieder": No. 5. Traume (Dreams) (arr. W. Primrose): Wesendonk Lieder: No. 5. Traume (arr. W. Primrose) 3:45$0.89  Buy MP3 
  7. Huella, Op. 49 (arr. W. Primrose) 2:33$0.89  Buy MP3 
  8. Prelude No. 15, "Ao pe da fogueira" (arr. W. Primrose) 1:35$0.89  Buy MP3 
  9. Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, Op. 7, MS 48: III. Rondo, "La campanella" (arr. W. Primrose) 5:23$0.89  Buy MP3 
10. Bachianas brasileiras No. 5: I. Aria: Cantilena (arr. W. Primrose) 5:22$0.89  Buy MP3 
11. L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1: III. Adagietto (arr. W. Primrose): L'arlesienne Suite No. 1: III. Adagietto (arr. W. Primrose) 2:38$0.89  Buy MP3 
12. Sarasateana (version for viola and piano): I. Tango: Allegro moderato 3:12$0.89  Buy MP3 
13. Sarasateana (version for viola and piano): II. Polo: Allegro moderato 4:22$0.89  Buy MP3 
14. Sarasateana (version for viola and piano): III. Malaguena: Amabile 4:30$0.89  Buy MP3 
15. Sarasateana (version for viola and piano): IV. Zapateado: Allegro moderato 3:52$0.89  Buy MP3 
16. 6 Romances, Op. 6: No. 6. None but the Lonely Heart (arr. W. Primrose) 2:32$0.89  Buy MP3 
17. 5 Lieder, Op. 105: No. 1. Wie Melodien zieht es mir (arr. W. Primrose) 2:07$0.89  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Composer: Alexander Borodin, Franz Schubert, Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Julian Aguirre, et al.
  • Audio CD (July 25, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B000FGGKEY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,764 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 31, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Although probably not a household name, Roberto Díaz is one of the best violists these days. He was principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra until recently and is the newly-appointed head of the Curtis Institute. Part of what makes this CD so interesting are the family connections involved. Díaz's father, the Chilean violist Manuel Díaz, was a one-time viola student of William Primrose, and was Roberto's first teacher (as Primrose's father was HIS teacher!). Further, the viola Díaz is playing on is Primrose's very own primary performing viola, one made by brothers Antonio and Hieronymus Amati in about 1600 and now owned by Díaz.

None of this would matter except for the music contained herein. It is a set of transcriptions for viola and piano made by Primrose for his own use in solo performances. As Amazon has not as of the date of this review listed those contents I will do so:

Borodin: Nocturne: Andante (from String Quartet No. 2)
Schubert: Litany for All Soul's Day: Adagio
Beethoven: Notturno, Op. 42 (arr. from the Serenade, Op. 8)
Wagner: 'Träume' (from the Wesendonck Lieder)
Aguirre/Heifetz: Huella: movido y energico
del Valle/Heifetz: Ao Pé da Fogueira: Allegro comodo
Paganini: La Campanella (fr. Violin Concerto No. 2)
Villa-Lobos: Aria from 'Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5'
Bizet: Adagietto from 'L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1'
Efrem Zimbalist: Sarasateana
Tchaikovsky: None but the Lonely Heart
Brahms: Wie Melodien zieht es mir

The Zimbalist is interesting for a couple of reasons.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. Nimmich on December 13, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It is as if, in his hands, his instrument has lungs and a tongue. He can sing and change timbre four times in one bow leaving one breathless! Flawless virtuosity, yet with soul. Roberto neither leaves you warn out from too much sentimentality, nor wanting for soul and musicality amid "so many notes."

We have the making of a legend in our own time. This recording is priceless.

-Robert C Nimmich
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Donald G. Hite III on December 28, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD is really a treat for any viola fan!

Diaz is a great player, and the pieces on this CD provide enough variety that his technical and musical gifts can really shine through. There are many "song-like" pieces that are more lyrical in nature. The Borodin and the Brahms are two of my personal favorites, as well as the Wagner. Diaz has a rich sound which is sweet and not overly nasal or shrill in the upper register.

What I personally like about this disc is the more virtuoso pieces. As a violist with major violin envy, I frequently try to play violin pieces on the viola, often only to be disappointed by the fact that many things that violins do just don't work on the viola (due to it's relative lack of responsiveness, etc). I think violas are in desperate need of virtuoso music, but it can be a challenge find pieces that work on the viola (rather than just sounded like flawed, clunkier versions of their violin counterpart). I think the Paganini works beautifully (despite the amazon reviewers statement that it sounds labored). While the technique can't be thrown off with the same effortlessness that a violinist does, the piece sounds at home on the viola, managing to showcase it's huskiness without allowing it to become a hindrance. The Zimbalist pieces are the same. They contain a mixture of more lyrical movements and faster music as well. I love the last movement.

The amazon review had issue with the Beethoven transcription, but it seems to work fine to me.

The only piece that I take minor issue with is the Villa-Lobos. I just don't really see why this piece would be transcribed for the viola... I see only two reasons to transcribe a piece.
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By Anja Pitsker on November 15, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have just switched from playing violin for many years to playing viola now. For that reason I have recently been gathering viola recordings. This one I like especially for the sound of William Primrose's beautiful Amati viola and the skill and musicality of Roberto Diaz playing it. The sound of the instrument enchants me! The pieces themselves are quite pleasant. The one that stands out as my favorite is the Sarasateana, a collection of four of Pablo de Sarasate's Spanish Dances rewritten by the violinist Efrem Zimbalist and then transcribed by Zimbalist for the viola at Primrose's request. They are beautiful pieces of music as well as some of the most virtuosic viola music I know of. With Roberto Diaz playing them they become simply enchanting.
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I am learning to play Viola, and this CD serves as my inspiration! I just love the music and play it every day!
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William Primrose: Viola Transcriptions
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