Tabea Zimmermann, Solo Viola: REGER 3 Suites for Solo Viola, Op. 131d. J.S. BACH: Suites for Solo Viola (adapted from Solo Cello Suites 1 & 2) – Tabea Zimmermann, viola – Myrios Classics multichannel SACD MYR003, 65:33 ***** [Distrib. by Allegro]:
It’s about time that the superstar German violist, now in the prime of her career, has arrived at recording both Max Reger and J.S. Bach. Although the composers were separated by two centuries, they belong to the same kind of deeply-focused musical integrity in which every note is precious. And although the Reger Suites have been only occasionally recorded, and probably send up a red flag to cautious chamber music presenters, they are every bit as gratifying for violists to play, and audiences to listen to, as the Bach.
As Zimmermann interweaves Reger’s Three Suites of Op. 131d with the first two Bach Cello Suites, so insistent and intelligent is her desire to inhabit the spirit of each movement that the Reger Suites take on unsuspected "film noir" shades of meaning. In her hands, even an innocent Bach prelude is not immune to shadows–harmonically speaking that is. Throughout, Zimmermann’s playing is regal and full-bodied throughout, with a feline underside that colors and shapes the musical line.
As captured to perfection by Myrios Records in Cologne, the sound has the kind of daring intimacy and natural warmth which invites and enables recording artists to look deep into themselves and the music they play. And as good as the conventional sound is, the SACD version has that extra bit of ambiance that’s like breaking Mach 1–sonically speaking.
If you’d like to hear Tabea Zimmermann in person, she’s going to be playing with her Arcanto Quartet (along with Antje Weithaas, Daniel Sepec and Jean-Guihen Queyras, of course) at the Library of Congress, Harvard and Carnegie Hall, and in Vancouver and Houston this coming October. In November, she will play what I assume to be an adaptation of Glazunov’s great Saxophone Concerto with the Camerata Bern. It should be the perfect vehicle for her.
– Laurence Vittes