A Hungarian masterpiece is given a refreshing new setting

Rose Wollman: Loop

The Strad Issue: June 2023

Description: A Hungarian masterpiece is given a refreshing new setting

Musicians: Rose Wollman (viola)

Works: Ligeti: Viola Sonata; and works by Arad, Bach, Biber, Corelli, Gabrielli, Knox, Mansour, Tartini, Telemann, Watras, Williams and Wollman

Catalogue number: ACIS APL30100

Learning Ligeti’s monumental unaccompanied Viola Sonata was Rose Wollman’s lockdown project, one that sent her on a prolonged journey of lateral thinking that prompted her to pair each of the piece’s six movements with a Baroque pendant and to commission new pieces that breathe the same atmosphere. Just to describe how it all fits together would take up more than my allotted space, so let me just say that this album is various recitals at once. You get a performance of the Ligeti sonata that underlines each movement’s unique qualities. If the initial ‘Hora lungă’ could be more rhapsodic, ‘Loop’ (no.2) and ‘Chaconne chromatique’ (no.6) swing excitingly, ‘Prestissimo con sordino’ (no.4) scurries along in no time, while ‘Facsar’ and ‘Lamento’ (nos.3 and 5) showcase Wollman’s sonorous double-stopping.

The Baroque pieces, culminating in Biber’s Passacaglia, make up a dance suite of their own. Here Wollman appropriately employs a lighter touch that will set your toes tapping and leave you wishing for the complete Bach suite, Corelli sonata or Telemann fantasia that she has excerpted. But listening through the CD as planned, the groupings work their magic as when, say, Bach’s C minor Prelude flows into Ligeti’s C-string-only ‘Hora lungă’, the ending of which slides seamlessly into Garth Knox’s Ritorno which takes us back to the open C. The subsequent sets work just as well, with Wollman’s elegantly written booklet notes guiding the listener through her thinking, and her no less eloquent playing making a convincing case for this most original recital.