As the viola player Robert Turner emphasised, the amorous instrument is rather impractical. With seven strings and an additional set of sympathetic strings beneath, it is hard to play individual notes, particularly the passionate writing of the 'Intimate Letters' quartet. The instrument was designed to play in D minor, accompanied by corresponding harmonies (largely in thirds on the adjacent strings). So 'viola d'amore', written on every page of the score is clearly only a symbolic indication, the voice of love in his music. But it was marvellous to see and hear the instrument in any case. It was a great afternoon at LSO St. Luke's before Anne-Sophie Mutter's muscular performance of the Dvořák Violin Concerto and a searingly loud Glagolitic Mass that evening.
(12 october 2010)