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Playing: String Quintet in G minor, K516 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Image for Viola: Air on a C String

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Viola: Air on a C String

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 28 July 2012

Writer and string player Fiona Maddocks takes an analytical look at the viola. Why did so many great composers choose the most misunderstood and enigmatic string instrument as their favourite? What is it about its tone quality and the role that it plays in musical texture - right at the heart of the harmonic engine room - that made it so attractive, and why has it become the butt of jokes? With contributions from soloists PInchas Zukerman and Maxim Rysanov, Paul Cassidy of the Brodsky Quartet, violist/composers Brett Dean and Sally Beamish, and baroque violist Annette Isserlis.

Music includes works by Bach, Purcell, Mozart Beethoven, Schubert, Janacek, Smetana, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Hindemith, Britten, Vaughan Williams, Walton, and Bartok.

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