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Lawrence Power releases MacMillan Viola Concerto

Lawrence Power's new recording of James MacMillan’s Viola Concerto is released today, 29 May, by Hyperion Records. He performs it with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, who pairs it with MacMillan's Symphony No.4.

Power commissioned MacMillan to write the concerto and performed the premiere in January 2014 at the Royal Festival Hall. He says of the work: ‘MacMillan’s music is so immediate with audiences everywhere. I’ve played it all over the world and it never fails to make an impact. It’s quite unusual for composers to have such an instant and universally recognised voice. The concerto is traditional in form, but also very bold. In the first movement there’s a backdrop of what sounds like a viol quartet – two violas and two cellos playing ancient-sounding music, with the viola coming in and out throughout the movement. The second movement is like a question mark. On one level it’s an incredibly beautiful love song, but there’s also a strange, sinister element to it. People are so touched by the concerto, and I am, too. It is an example of great new music. I play it everywhere, and it’s wonderful to have it in my repertoire.'

Fiona Maddox described the work as ‘a major contribution to the repertory’ in The Observer, saying ‘this inventive, three-movement piece exploits fully the lyrical qualities of the instrument, launching with a rhapsodic solo ascent and finding bold colours via some hushed string harmonics, dissonances and glissandi… James MacMillan has said he loved writing for the instrument and its player. Lawrence Power, in turn, looked as if he adored playing it. The cheers suggested everyone was of the same mind.’

Andrew Clements wrote in The Guardian: ‘It’s a fine showcase for Power’s extraordinarily eloquent playing, and his ability to transform the most commonplace phrase into something magically eloquent and memorable.’

Find out more and download the concerto here.