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Notes 59.2 (2002) 453-458

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Henri Lazarof. Six Bagatelles: for Solo Viola [1996]. Bryn Mawr, Pa.: Merion Music, Inc.; Theodore Presser Co., sole representative, c1997. [Score, 7 p.; composer notes, back cover verso. Pub. no. 144-40286. Duration, ca. 131 /2 min. $7.50.]
Francis Thorne. Rhapsodic Variations No. 4: for Solo Viola [1987]. Bryn Mawr, Pa.: Merion Music, Inc.; Theodore Presser Co., sole representative, c1999. [Score, 8 p. Pub. no. 144-40352. Duration, ca. 9 min. $10.]
Georges Migot. Sonate: pour alto seul [1958]. Éditée par Marc Honegger. Strasbourg: Les Amis de l'Œuvre et de la Pensée de Georges Migot; Paris : Distribution exclusive, SEDIM, c1996. [Score, 12 p.; notes, 1 p. GM 121. €12.78.]
George Tsontakis. Requiescat: for Viola and Piano [1996]. Bryn Mawr, Pa.: Merion Music, Inc.; Theodore Presser Co., sole representative, c2000. [Score, 7 p.; composer notes, back cover verso; and part. Pub. no. 144-40399. Duration, ca. 8 min. $10.]
Adrian Williams. Tinúviel's Dance: pour alto & piano [1986]. Paris: Éditions Max Eschig (T. Presser), c1997. [Notes in Eng., Fr., 1 p.; score, 32 p.; and part. M.E. 9058. Duration, ca. 181 /2 min. €31.]
John Hawkins. Urizen: for Viola and Piano [1983]. London: Boosey & Hawkes, c1995. [Composer's note in Eng., Ger., Fr., 1 p.; score, 12 p.; and part. Pub. no. 9787. Duration, ca. 9 min. $17.50.]

In a recent recording by Paul Silverthorne (principal violist of the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta) of contemporary viola works by eleven composers (Invocations, Black Box BBM1058 [2001]), a diversity of compositional styles is readily evident. The most convincing of these pieces achieve expressivity by capturing the viola's rich sonority, whatever the range or technical requirements of the work. The same can be said for the six modern viola compositions here under review—three for solo viola: Henri Lazarof's Six Bagatelles (1996; pub. 1997), Francis Thorne's Rhapsodic Variations no. 4 (1987; pub. 1999), and Georges Migot's Sonate pour alto seul (1958; pub. 1996); and an eclectic mix of three works for viola and piano: George Tsontakis's Requiescat (1996; pub. 2000), commissioned in memory of a beloved musician, and Adrian Williams's Tinúviel's Dance (1986; pub. 1997) and John [End Page 453] Hawkins's Urizen (1983; pub. 1995), both inspired by literary sources.

Bulgarian-born American composer Henri Lazarof (b. 1932) studied at Brandeis University under Arthur Berger and Harold Shapiro, and became professor of composition at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1962 (he is now professor emeritus). He composed the Six Bagatelles for Marcus Thompson, currently head of chamber music and performance studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lazarof's earlier chamber works for viola, written for and recorded by violist Milton Thomas (1920-2001), former faculty member at the University of Southern California, include the Inventions for Viola and Piano (1962; recordings: Six Centuries of the Viola, Counterpoint/Esoteric CPTS 5605 [1964], LP; Music of Today, Everest LPBR 6160 [1967], LP; String Quartet 1980, etc., Laurel Record LR-129 [1984], LP); Cadence II (Cadence for Milton) for viola and magnetic tape (1969; recordings: Lazarof, Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra, etc., Desto DC 7109 [1970], LP; reissued on CD as Music of Henri Lazarof, CRI CD 631 [1992]); and Volo: 3 canti da requiem for viola and two string ensembles (1975; recordings: Milton Thomas Plays Shostakovitch & Lazarof, Laurel Record LR-118 [1981], LP; reissued on CD as Lazarof, Music for Chamber Orchestra, Viola, Organ, Laurel Record LR844CD [1989]). Lazarof's belief that a composer should search out a performer's limits, as well as one's own (see the Presser Online biography of Lazarof at composers/lazarof.html [accessed 4 July 2002]), certainly applies to the Six Bagatelles, in which the composer imaginatively explores the viola's full range and potential. These pieces are slightly...


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