Glorious, wide-ranging recital of 20th-century violin miniatures

Adrien La Marca: Chanson Bohème

The Strad Issue: March 2022

Description: Glorious, wide-ranging recital of 20th-century violin miniatures

Musicians: Adrien La Marca (viola) Danae Dörken (piano)

Works: Music by Aznavour, Boulanger, Brahms, Bridge, Canteloube, Coulais, Dvořák, Giraud, Glass, Massenet, Piazzolla, Poulenc, Satie, Sitt, Tchaikovsky and Tiersen

Catalogue number: LA DOLCE VOLTA LDV 89

In the chatty interview that makes up this CD’s booklet, Adrien La Marca admits to having wished to make a ‘feel good’ recording. It is my pleasant duty to report that he and his congenial piano partner, Danae Dörken, have succeeded completely. The addictively gorgeous sound that La Marca coaxes from his 1780 Nicola Bergonzi viola soon put paid to my initial intention of listening in small doses to what could have been a monotonous selection of (mostly) slowish morsels. ‘Sous le ciel de Paris’ sets the scene for a recital that keeps coming back to a world of Parisian chic, with simply but effectively arranged songs by the likes of Satie (‘Je te veux’,) Poulenc (‘Les Chemins de l’amour’) or the maître himself, Charles Aznavour (the title track).

Just one original composition for viola and piano is included: Hans Sitt’s Album Leaves op.39, a charming collection strongly redolent of Schumann in fairytale mood. These ideally attuned players conceive the six different pieces as an uncommonly cohesive whole, the closing tarantella, taken at a tremendous lick, providing an exhilarating moment of high-wire virtuosity. La Marca’s lilting reading of Frank Bridge’s Serenade (originally written for violin or cello) reminded me of his appealing debut recording, an enterprising programme of English music published in 2016 on the same boutique label. A French pendant featuring the music of, say, Milhaud, Tournemire or de Bréville would make for a nice sequel to this lovingly produced, most recommendable recital.