My initial amazement that a violist with such an echt-Hungarian name should be playing this arch-English repertoire, and in such an idiomatic and convincing way to boot, vanished after reading her biography: upon graduating in her native Budapest, Enik? Magyar went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) in London, an institution that has kept the legacy of Lionel Tertis, the inspiration behind most of the music included here, very much alive over the past century.
Playing on a Grancino viola (c.1700) on loan from the RAM, Magyar has at her command a wonderfully wide palette of colours (the pianissimo beginning of the Bliss Sonata’s second movement is breathtaking) and beautifully clear articulation (ditto the the same piece’s ‘Furiant’). She is also perfectly at home in the ‘eternal snow’ regions high up on the A string frequently required both in the Bliss and in Tertis’s arrangement of Delius’s Third Violin Sonata (a first recording, as far as I’m aware).
This truthfully recorded CD is rounded off with seven pieces by Frank Bridge, who of course was himself a violist. However, only ‘Pensiero’ and ‘Allegro appassionato’ are original pieces, the rest having been (anonymously but idiomatically) transcribed from violin and cello originals. Magyar and Tadashi Imai enter their wistful sound world with sure instinct.