There are easier things in the world than making a career as a solo violist, but the skilled and imaginative young American David Aaron Carpenter would seem to have what it takes to succeed. After leading with an impressive debut disc a couple years back that featured concertos by Elgar and Alfred Schnittke, Carpenter has opted for a more traditional showpiece this time - Berlioz's "Harold in Italy" - and he gives it a fine, fervent rendition. Together with conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy, who draws vivid playing from the Helsinki Philharmonic, Carpenter takes a suitably dramatic view of the work, bringing out the narrative angle with the viola itself as the protagonist and giving the music a richly burnished tonal profile. And since Berlioz's work - which is less a concerto than a symphony with viola obbligato - doesn't offer all that much scope for showing off, Carpenter winds up with Paganini's "Sonata per la Gran Viola e Orchestra," which calls for as much virtuoso display as anyone could ask. Carpenter's performance is a wizardly assortment of passagework, instrumental effects and even a few lovely lyrical moments.
HAROLD IN ITALY
DAVID AARON CARPENTER, VLADIMIR ASHKENAZY
This article appeared on page Q - 33 of the San Francisco Chronicle
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