sabato 17 settembre 2011

Entartete Musik by Gavin Plumley

A voice like a viola d'amore

Janáček was obsessed with the viola d'amore. When he met Kamila Urvalková in Luhačovice in 1903, the composer described her as ‘the most beautiful of women. Her voice was like violas d’amour’. The rather obsolete string instrument, maintained a special place in Janáček’s heart throughout his career. Although the authorised score of Osud (the opera Urvalková inspired) contains no music for the viola d’amore, the copyist’s manuscript indicates that many passages for two viola d’amore were changed (perhaps for reasons of practicality) to normal violas.

Janáček returned year after year to Luhačovice, and when he came to stay in 1917 he met Kamila Stösslová. She became the composer’s emotional lynchpin. History repeating itself, the operas Stösslová influenced, Káťá Kabanová and The Makropulos Case both use the viola d’amore. But in the second string quartet, which David Alberman, Gabrielle Painter, Robert Turner and Amanda Truelove of the LSO performed on Sunday at the LSO Janáček Discovery Day, the instrument becomes inextricably tied to Kamila Stösslová.

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.

Gavin Plumley
(12 october 2010)

Nessun commento: