Four strings making up a quartet - there’s nothing unusual
in that. But the ensemble takes on a very unusual
hue when the four instruments concerned have identical
pitch, four violas in this case.
Armed with the idea for this unusual combination,
four members of the Munich Philharmonic set
out on the “viola quartet” adventure. Of course, the
original repertoire for this instrumentation is limited.
The only two original works on the debut CD of the
group are the “Nachtstücke” (“Night Pieces”) by Max
von Weinzierl and the “Fantasie Quartet” by York
Bowen. By contrast, the original string quartet version
of Astor Piazzolla’s famous “Four for Tango” has
been rearranged for four violas.
The remaining compositions on this CD might
not strictly be regarded as “adaptations”: the concertos
by Georg Friedrich Telemann, written originally for
four violins, are played a fifth lower here. A selection
of duos from the “44 Duos for Two Violins” follows
the arrangement for two violas by Béla Bartók’s son