More gentle colour than shadow in this viola and piano programme

Dana Zemtsov: Silhouettes

Dana Zemtsov: Silhouettes

The Strad Issue: September 2020

Description: More gentle colour than shadow in this viola and piano programme

Musicians: Dana Zemtsov (viola) Anna Fedorova (piano)

Works: Clarke: Viola Sonata. Werkman: Suite op.51. Milhaud: Viola Sonata no.1 op.240. Enescu: Concert Piece. Debussy: La plus que lente (arr. Strakhov); Clair de lune (arr. Borisovsky); Beau soir (arr. Gretchaninov)

Catalogue Number: CHANNEL CLASSICS CCA 42320

Dana Zemtsov has a knack for interesting programming, even if her title here, Silhouettes, suggests something more hard-edged and monochrome than this pastel-shaded, largely French-inspired collection. The main works are the sonatas by Rebecca Clarke and Darius Milhaud, together with a latter-day French Suite (2007) from Dutch composer Arne Werkman and Enescu’s 1906 Concert Piece, all interspersed with viola-and-piano arrangements of Debussy miniatures.

Clarke’s delicate balancing of the two instruments in her Sonata of 1919 means that the recording set-up here – intimate viola paired with more recessed, diffuse keyboard – makes the whole sound rather lacking in air. Zemtsov’s touch can be light when required, but her tempo choice for the Sonata’s central Vivace makes the music seem ponderous rather than fleet-footed, as comparison with any of her main rivals on disc only highlights. She fairs better in the Debussy, and is especially captivating in the veiled quality to her tone with which she launches Clair de lune and the sensitive longing of Beau soir. Her rhythmic sense is best displayed in the Werkman suite and more neo-Classical aspects of the Milhaud. Anna Fedorova is a nimble duo partner, though appreciation of her playing is hampered by the aforementioned muddying effect of the recording.