Set of 2 CDs
Viola Space in Tokyo is one of the world’s most important musical festivals dedicated to the viola and the music composed for it. Founded by Nobuko Imai – well-known to BIS followers as well as to lovers of the viola – it celebrates its 10th anniversary, and BIS was invited to document some of the 150 works that have been performed over the years. The program spans over more than 70 years, and the list of composer includes Schnittke, Per Nørgård, Penderecki and Oedoen Partos. Nobuko Imai herself performs two of the most exciting works on the two discs: György Ligeti’s Sonata for Viola Solo and Toshio Hosokawa’s Voyage VI for Viola and Strings. This last piece was composed only last year, and is dedicated Nobuko Imai. It forms part of a series of concertos “in which the soloist symbolizes man while the ensemble represents the universe, nature and world that surrounds us within and without”, in the composer’s own description. Besides Nobuko Imai, six of the finest viola players in Japan (and indeed the world) perform solo works, chamber music and concertos in which the viola plays a central role. Among these a modern classic such as György Kurtág’s Hommage à R. Sch. – in which violist Junji Suganuma is joined by a clarinet and a piano – may be mentioned, as well as Viola, Viola, a constantly surprising duo by George Benjamin. This double CD is unmissable not only as a portrait of a fascinating festival but also as a documentation of the various ways the viola has stirred the imagination of contemporary composers.