‘I know – I was there’: Letters to the editor November 2022

LOTM Mathis Rochat (c) Alexander Edelmann

A selection of letters The Strad receives each month from its readers around the world: November 2022 issue

Viola power

I was interested to read the comments by violist Mathis Rochat (bit.ly/3DolTmZ) on Rachmaninoff and wanted to share my own thoughts. One of a musician’s most significant assets is the musical ear, the ability to transcribe any piece in any clef. This is something that has been ingrained in me even more as a violist. So many pieces written for violin or cello transcribe phenomenally for the viola. In some cases they even sound better on the viola.

I have played the viola for seven years, and the violin for the past three. Building a solid foundation on both the viola and the violin has really helped me to master certain pieces that were transcribed for violin.

One of my favourite pieces to play is the ‘Méditation’ from Thaïs because it’s a piece I know well on both the viola and the violin. I learnt it first on violin and then decided to learn it on the viola. I immediately fell in love with it. The dark tones of the viola, and throwing the piece down a 5th, paired so nicely with G major. I also feel that the piece opens up more on the viola. There’s a certain level of depth to it that you just can’t achieve on the violin.

I think that to transpose a piece in your head successfully, you need to have a solid understanding of your instrument, and an equally solid understanding of music theory. That being said, I can’t wait to sit down and listen to Rochat’s new album!


San Antonio, TX, US…

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