- Viola Concerto in B flat major
- Viola Concerto in D major
- Viola Concerto in D major, Op. 1/1
The concerto repertory for the viola is not large, and the Naxos label figures to do well among violists themselves with this trio of concertos from the late 18th century. The reason for the paucity of Classical-era viola concertos, at least, was that then as now there were few specialist viola virtuosos. The exception to the rule, however, was composer Carl Philipp Stamitz, whose "Viola Concerto No. 1 in D major" of 1773, heard here, is one of the standards of the repertory. Stamitz also apparently composed music for viola d'amore, which would be nice to hear sometime, but Baltimore-based violist Victoria Chiang and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra under Markand Thakar deliver a decent performance of the viola concerto here, with a feel for its most distinctive quality: its large, discursive structure. This concerto, composed in Mannheim, comes from a different world from Mozart's Vienna; in place of Viennese compactness there is a large orchestra (perhaps reflecting the continuing influence of the Mannheim school, although the work was apparently composed elsewhere) with which the viola carries on a surprising variety of dialogues. These include, at times, passages in which the solo viola is set against the divided violas of the orchestra, an effect of which Mozart would hardly have thought. The solo part itself includes multiple stops, harmonics, and passagework worthy of a true virtuoso; Chiang never lets you imagine the sweat. The two concertos by Vienna's Franz Anton Hoffmeister, generally known as the dedicatee of Mozart's "String Quartet in D major, K. 499," have rarely been recorded; they're competent examples of the Mozartian style, with peppy melodies, but they're not on the level of the Stamitz concerto. The sound, from an auditorium at Baltimore's Goucher College, is pretty basic, and in general this release is oriented toward those with specialist interests, but the Stamitz performance is very fine.