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Berlioz: Harold in Italy; Paganini: Sonata per la Grand Viola / Carpenter, violin; Ashkenazy

> Beatrice and Benedict - Beatrice and Benedict: Overture
> Harold en Italie, Op. 16 - I. Adagio (Harold in the Mountains. Scenes of Melancholy, Happiness and Joy)
> Harold en Italie, Op. 16 - II. Allegretto (March of the Pilgrims Singing the Evening Prayer)
> Harold en Italie, Op. 16 - III. Allegro Assai (Serenade of an Abruzzi Mountain-Dweller to his Mistress)
> Harold en Italie, Op. 16 - IV. Allegro Frenetico (Orgy of Brigands. Memories of Scenes Past)
> Sonata per la grand viola, MS 70 - I. Introduzione: Larghetto - Recitativo a piacere
> Sonata per la grand viola, MS 70 - II. Cantabile Andante Sostenuto
> Sonata per la grand viola, MS 70 - III. Tema (Andantino) e variazioni I-III

Album Summary

>Berlioz, Hector : Béatrice et Bénédict, Overture, H. 138
>Berlioz, Hector : Harold in Italy for viola and orchestra, Op. 16
>Paganini, Niccolò : Sonata for gran viola & orchestra in C minor, MS 70
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

For his second CD release, 25-year-old, New York-born violist David Aaron Carpenter is joined by Vladimir Ashkenazy who leads the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. Together they perform the Symphony with Viola obbligato, "Harold in Italy," which Hector Berlioz originally wrote on a commission from Paganini. The present recording features, for the first time, a more virtuoso soloist part written for Paganini. The coupling is a showpiece, which Nicolò Paganini wrote after rejecting his earlier Berlioz commission; "The Sonata per la Gran Viola displays the highest virtuosic writing for this instrument," says David Aaron Carpenter, who defines his mission as focusing attention on the viola as a great solo string instrument in its own right. Recipient of the 2011 Leonard Bernstein Award and winner of the 2010 Avery Fisher Career Grant, David Aaron Carpenter has emerged as one of the world's most promising young artists. In 2006, he won the prestigious Walter E. Naumburg Viola Competition and in 2007, he became protégé for The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, being the youngest in this mentorship programme's history. David Aaron Carpenter has been the protégé of several major international musical figures, such as Pinchas Zukerman, Yuri Bashmet and Christoph Eschenbach. David Aaron Carpenter Recipient of the 2011 Leonard Bernstein Award and winner of the 2010 Avery Fisher Career Grant, David has emerged as one of the world's most promising young artists. Since making his debut in 2005 with The Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Christoph Eschenbach, David has performed with leading musicians and orchestras in the United States and Europe which include the Philharmonia Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, NDR Sinfonieorchester, and the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra.

San Francisco Chronicle
Carpenter... gives a fine, fervent rendition. Together with conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy, who draws vivid playing from the Helsinki Philharmonic, Carpenter takes a suitably dramatic view of the work, bringing out the narrative angle with the viola itself as the protagonist and giving the music a richly burnished tonal profile. Carpenter's performance is a wizardly assortment of passagework, instrumental effects and even a few lovely lyrical moments.

Gramophone
The disc starts with a neat, lively, wellpaced account of the Béatrice et Bénédict Overture and the performance of Harold, too, has much to recommend it - a fine-toned soloist, rhythmic, well-balanced orchestral playing and clear, bright recording.

Infodad.com
David Allan Carpenter's is particularly good: he restores some extra-difficult elements of Harold in Italy... Ashkenazy also leads a light, well-paced and bouncy version of the overture to Béatrice et Bénédict, which functions as a sort of curtain-raiser for Harold in Italy. Also on the CD is Paganini's own version of... Sonata per la Gran Viola e Orchestra. ... there is certainly plenty of virtuosity in it, especially in the final set of variations. Carpenter plays it quite well, and both he and Ashkenazy are careful not to over-expand the work into something larger than it is.

Audiophile Audition
Violist David Aaron Carpenter plays beautifully... attractive melodies, stately dances and ends with a set of buoyant variations for viola and orchestra. Carpenter dispatches everything with grace and elegance. The disc begins with a spirited performance of the overture to Berlioz's comic opera Beatrice and Benedict, based on Shakespeare's play, Much Ado About Nothing.

Audiophilia
David Aaron Carpenter has restored the original viola... with excellent support from the Helsinki Philharmonic and Ashkanazy... it is well worth a look.

Allmusic.com
This album offers exceptional renditions... Carpenter plays with great skill and abundant energy, and he raises the modest viola to violinistic presence and power. Ashkenazy brings the orchestra to a high level of excitement... The sonata is filled with intensity and drama, and Carpenter and Ashkenazy deliver a fun performance that concludes the album in a jovial mood. Ondine's sound is bright, clear, and full, so the recording is thoroughly enjoyable.

The Telegraph
Carpenter is the eloquent viola soloist in Berlioz's Byronic symphony...[Ashkenazy and the Helsinki orchestra ] reveal the music's narrative heart compellingly. Paganini's own Sonata for viola and orchestra, scarcely on a par with Berlioz, nevertheless allows Carpenter to demonstrate his lyrical musicality and bravura.

Sunday Times
The excellent violist David Aaron Carpenter has reinstated a virtuoso passage in the opening adagio, originally sketched for Paganini. With Ashkenazy and the Helsinki PO, he gives a masterly account of the work, glowing and incisive.

Classic FM Magazine
The undisputed star is the first recording of the more virtuosic, original version of Harold in Italy which is fully exploited by Carpenter's beguiling, beautiful tone and thrilling technique. The orchestra is no bit-part player here; Ashkenazy's ensemble throughout makes this an outstanding collaboration.

Gramophone Magazine
Carpenter rises to all the challenges with great dexterity, preserving fine tone and pure intonation in the most (for the viola player) alarming situations...the performance of Harold, too, has much to recommend it - a fine-toned soloist, rhythmic, well-balanced orchestral playing and clear, bright recording. There are some especially imaginative touches of tone-painting.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland (04/13/2011-04/16/2011).



Reviews

Wow, wow, wow!
Vladimir Ashkenazy is perhaps best known as a world-class pianist, but this recording certainly makes the case that he should have been a full-time conductor – on the podium (at least on this recording) he is a monster! And coupled with David Aaron Carpenter’s virtuosic Viola playing, this is must-have disc.

The first piece is Hector Berlioz’ “Overture to Beatrice et Benedict, Op. 27”, and it is rollicking, fun, and a real joy to listen to. As indicated in the liner notes, the audience of the time must have known that a comedy was certainly to follow. The next piece is “Harold in Italy (Symphony with Viola obbligato), Op. 16” and it is stunning. Mr. Carpenter chooses to play the version of the solo part that was explicitly written for Paganini, appropriate given that the piece itself was commissioned by Paganini as he had just been given a Stradivari viola and wanted something to play on it! This four movement work certainly delivers, at times sensitive, then blindingly fast – a real tour-de-force for the gifted soloist, and Mr. Carpenter delivers. It is also the case that Mr. Ashkenazy insures that the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra is a fitting partner, insuring that the soloist shines while at the same time driving the musical organism forward. This is a fantastic performance.

The other selection on the disc is the “Sonata per la Gran Viola e Orchestra, Op. 35”, written by Paganini himself after he realized that “Harold in Italy” would not provide quite the opportunity for showmanship that he sought. This piece is full of vim, vigor, harmonics, and fireworks. This listener is envious of the lucky individuals that got to hear this first-hand from Paganini’s viola. Each variation in the 3rd movement has something new to offer, and demonstrates beyond any shadow of doubt that the viola is a powerful instrument in the hands of the gifted – and David Aaron Carpenter certainly fits that description.

This disc is fantastic from the first track to the last. Very Highly Recommended!

Submitted on 01/05/12 by KlingonOpera 
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Works Details

>Berlioz, Hector : Béatrice et Bénédict, Overture, H. 138
  • Conductor: Vladimir Ashkenazy
  • Ensemble: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland (04/13/2011-04/16/2011)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 08/1860-02/1862

>Berlioz, Hector : Harold in Italy for viola and orchestra, Op. 16
  • Performer: David Carpenter (Viola)
  • Conductor: Vladimir Ashkenazy
  • Ensemble: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland (04/13/2011-04/16/2011)
  • Running Time: 42 min. 47 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 07/1834

>Niccolò Paganini (Composer/Violin) (1782 - 1840) : Sonata for gran viola & orchestra in C minor, MS 70
  • Performer: David Carpenter (Viola)
  • Conductor: Vladimir Ashkenazy
  • Ensemble: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland (04/13/2011-04/16/2011)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1834