The Strad Issue: May 2016
Description: Vivid viola sounds in La Marca’s thoughtfully conceived programme
Musicians: Adrien La Marca (viola) Thomas Hoppe (piano)
Composer: Bridge; Britten; Clarke; Dowland; Harvey; Vaughan Williams; Purcell

From the opening fanfares of Rebecca Clarke’s Sonata, Adrien La Marca lays down his credentials as a sophisticated player with a sharp eye for the music’s shape. Aided by a vivid recording that catches his every nuance (and, sadly, also a great deal of sniffing), he indulges in an almost intangible pianissimo in passages such as the arpeggios in the first movement or the prolonged tremolo on the low C in the finale.

Logically following on from Dowland’s songs (where La Marca credibly impersonates a viol player with his non-vibrato playing and employment of open strings), Britten’s variations are excitingly characterised, and the return of ‘pure’ Dowland at the end works its magic. Bridge’s pieces are enchantingly played throughout, with La Marca taking due note of the composer’s original fingerings.

After Jonathan Harvey’s mesmerising Chant, with its disconcerting scordatura that includes an A string lowered by a quartertone, La Marca and his uncannily empathetic partner Thomas Hoppe beautifully catch the innocent atmosphere of Vaughan Williams’s folk songs. La Dolce Volta’s presentation includes an above-average number of pictures of La Marca risking life, limb and instrument (a gorgeous-sounding Guadagnini) as well as an interesting interview providing his insights into his chosen repertoire.

Carlos María Solare