GARTH KNOX (b.1956): Viola Spaces for 2, 3 and 4 Violas, Violas Spaces Variations on Marin Marais for 4 Violas, La Valse de la Vineuse for Viola d'Amore, Clarinet, Violin and Cello, Jonah and the Whale for Viola and Tuba, Ockeghem Fantasy for Viola d'Amore and 5 Violas.
Catalogue Number: 05K113
Description: As a champion of new music and long-time viola player with the Arditti Quartet, Knox might be expected to write the thorniest of complex music for his instrument, so it is surprising to report that in these pieces every possible technical resource is brought to bear on pieces that are remarkably approachable and even playful, with recognizable antecedents in conventional music - for the listener, that is; the 'concert studies' for multiple violas, are of course technically challenging and employ a wide range of extended techniques. Each one explores a particular technique - unconventional bowing, extended use of harmonics, microtones - but in the context of evocative little sound-pictures. The Marais variations (on La folia) uses the techniques of the studies to amplify the contrasts between the baroque variations, to lively and highly inventive effect. The Valse is a highly imaginative and humorous portrayal of a provincial French village, at once elegantly sophisticated and affectionately rustic. Jonah combines the unlikely duo of viola and tuba - apparently just to prove that it could be done - employing plenty of extended techniques in a lively, not terribly serious entertainment that one could imagine appealing at every level of listener appreciation, from children to followers of the garde most avant. The Ockeghem Fantasy very freely transcribes a three-part song by the 15th-century composer, also previously treated by Nono and Maderna. Knox's version expands the sonority of the viola d'amore as it explores the material of the original, overlaying contrasting material played by the viola ensemble, before being absorbed back into the textures and mood of the original. Garth Knox (viola, viola d'amore), Johannes Eva, Julien Heichelbech, Marie Petit, Cyprien Busonini, Aurélien Grais (violas), Carol Robinson (clarinet), Nathalie Chabot (violin), Agnès Vesterman (cello), Gérard Buquet (tuba).