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The Famous Viola Sonata

Donald Macleod focuses upon the period Rebecca Clarke composed her famous Viola Sonata for a competition. Including Philomela; Morpheus; Two Pieces; The Cloths of Heaven; Shy One.

Donald Macleod focuses upon the period Rebecca Clarke composed her famous viola sonata for a competition

Rebecca Clarke was one of the leading viola-players of her generation and composed over one hundred works, many for her own instrument. In 1912 and aged only twenty-five, Sir Henry Wood engaged Clarke to play in his Queen's Hall Orchestra, and from then on she also performed with such luminaries as Pablo Casals, Jascha Heifetz and Myra Hess in orchestral and chamber settings. Clarke was at the pinnacle of music making both in the UK, and also giving concerts as she toured around the globe. Arthur Rubenstein called her 'the glorious Rebecca Clarke'. As a composer, her viola sonata has stayed firmly in the repertoire yet few other works are remembered today, despite at one point having three publishers negotiating to publish her works. Donald Macleod is joined by Christopher Johnson who married into Clarke's family, and also Ian Jones, Deputy Head of Keyboard at the Royal College of Music, to lift the veil on this once highly regarded performer and composer.

In her twenties, Rebecca Clarke found herself thrown out of her home by her father and having to make her way in the world as a jobbing viola-player in London. She was engaged by Sir Henry Wood to play in his Queen's Hall Orchestra in 1912, and many other opportunities for freelance playing came her way, including travelling the globe. It was during the Great War that she toured the United States of America with fellow musicians, giving benefit concerts. Then in 1919 came an opportunity to enter the Berkshire Festival Competition, for which she composed her Viola Sonata. The judges didn't know the names of those composers who had entered the competition, and thought this work must have been by Ravel given its quality. In the end her Viola Sonata came second place to a work by Bloch, but this success propelled her music into the limelight.

Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge
Geoffrey Webber, conductor

Philip Dukes, viola
Sophia Rahman, piano

Two Pieces for viola and cello
Michael Ponder, viola
Justin Pearson, cello

The Cloths of Heaven
Patricia Wright, soprano
Kathron Sturrock, piano

Shy One
Patricia Wright, soprano
Kathron Sturrock, piano

A Dream
Patricia Wright, soprano
Kathron Sturrock, piano

Down by the Salley Gardens
Patricia Wright, soprano
Kathron Sturrock, piano

Viola Sonata
Paul Coletti, viola
Leslie Howard, piano

Producer Luke Whitlock.

1 hour

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