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PHILHARMONICA. International Music Journal

Genre Evolution of the Russian Viola Repertoire

Shevtsova Anastasiya Vladimirovna

PhD in Art History

Senior Lecturer at the Department of Orchestra String Instruments of Saratov State Conservatoire

410012, Russia, Saratov region, Saratov, P.A. Stolypin Ave., 1
Other publications by this author










Abstract: The subject of this research is Russia’s repertory heritage, including compositions for viola by twentieth-century composers. The works are considered from the viewpoint of their direct impact by the brightest representatives of the Russian viola school: Vadim Borisovsky, Fyodor Druzhinin, and Yuri Bashmet. The analysis is based on pieces devoted to Borisovsky (Sonata for Viola and Piano by V. Kryukov and S. Vasilenko, Songs of the Dead and Rhapsody for Viola and Piano by A. Veprik, A Suite for Viola and Piano by V. Gaigerova) and Bashmet (A Liturgy for a Large Orchestra and a Solo Viola, Bemoaned by the Wind, and Styx for Viola, Choir, and Orchestra by G. Kancheli), and the works by Druzhinin (Sonata for Solo Viola and Variations for Solo Viola). These pieces are considered from the position of a player’s influence on the composers’ interest in the solo manifestation of the viola and its gradual development. The author defines the term “character-performer” as corresponding with the image of a twentieth-century violist and denotes the new features of solo viola repertory as a result of the work of the above-mentioned violists, including the acknowledgment of the uniqueness of the viola’s sound, the establishment of the viola as a bright concert instrument, the expansion of a used range for the viola, the revelation of a mystic component of viola timbre, the definition of the unique unifying ability of viola timbre, the full technical liberation of an instrument, and the need for a co-author as a player.  


domestic composers, viola repertoire, hero-performer, Bashmet, Druzhinin, Borisovsky, viola, timbre, technical emancipation, coauthor

The development of viola performance is inextricably linked with its repertoire component. The compositions written for an instrument determine its position in musical culture. At the same time, the repertoire development directly depends on the performers. This idea is confirmed by the process of the multi-faceted emancipation of the viola in the twentieth century, which was the result of the activities of outstanding violists. Russian viola performance is inextricably linked with three musicians – Vadim Borisovsky, Fyodor Druzhinin, and Yuri Bashmet. The name of each of them corresponds to three components in the instrument's stages of development: pedagogy, performance, and repertoire. This article will trace the voila's domestic repertoire evolution in the twentieth century based on the activities of noted violists.

By the twentieth century, the viola had accumulated a rather meager repertoire over several centuries of existence. It should be noted that in Europe, due to certain circumstances, interest in this instrument appeared earlier and more actively, which is reflected in the creation of significant viola works. These include the Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 by Johann Sebastian Bach, the Viola Concerto in G major by George Philipp Telemann, the Viola Concerto in D major by Carl Stamitz, the Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra in E-flat major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the Sonatas para Viola y Piano by Niccolò Paganini, Felix Mendelssohn, Henri Vieuxtemps, and Johannes Brahms, and Hector Berlioz's symphony in four parts with viola obbligato Harold en Italie, Concerto for Clarinet, Viola, and Orchestra by Max Bruch. The first scattered attempts to present the viola as a solo instrument only began to appear in eighteenth-century Russia. It should be noted that the Russian musical community began to need professional violists at this time due to the vast spread of orchestras and ensembles, which included the viola as a mandatory instrument.

The list of significant domestic works written for solo viola will not take up much space: The Khandoshkin Viola Concerto in C major, sonatas for viola and piano by Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka, Alexander Winkler, Anton Rubinstein, the Concertino for Viola and Orchestra by Andrey Arends, nine salon pieces by Rubinstein, an Elegy for Viola and Piano by Aleksandr Glazunov, two songs without words by V. Stolypin. These works continue to be performed, despite the active growth of the viola repertoire in the twentieth century. More popular are the sonatas by Glinka and Rubinstein, as well as the Khandoshkin concerto. The rest of the compositions are mainly used as pedagogical material for the professional development of students.

Despite certain artistic merits, these compositions do not fully reveal the possibilities of the viola. Some of them are written for the violin or viola (optional), which indicates that the composers did not feel the specificity of the instrumental timbre. This affects the artistic sphere, in which, at this stage, there were no characteristic alto images. The alto range is not fully covered – the upper case is only partially used. First of all, this is due to the technical imperfection attributed to the alto, which is perceived as a passive, non-virtuous instrument. All these components would undergo significant changes in the twentieth century, which would bring the viola to a new level.

The solo viola repertoire's process of development in Russia developed, according to O. Pogadaeva, in two directions: from the arrangement to the original and from the miniature to the concerto and is inextricably linked with the performing triad of Vadim Borisovsky, Fyodor Druzhinin, and Yuri Bashmet [12]. Expressing full agreement with this classification, the author of this article aims to reveal the general specifics of each period's works and consider the evolution of viola performance through the prism of the influence of the violists' artistic individuality. The defining criterion for the development of solo viola performance will be the concept of hero-performer, which determines the musician performing the composition's new way of thinking and acting. The violist ceases to be only a narrator; he becomes a co-author. Each stage brings new features to the image of the hero-performer, which is undoubtedly reflected in the viola repertoire. The process of the origin and development of the hero-performer is clearly outlined in the viola's repertoire evolution.

So, by the beginning of the twentieth century, violists had a much more meager repertoire at their disposal than violinists or cellists. The lack of a concert viola repertoire called into question the very possibility of developing solo concert performances on the viola. The lack of performing traditions did not contribute to the development of compositional interest in this instrument. The viola was assigned the title of an ensemble, an orchestral instrument that is not capable of solo activity.

Borisovsky, the founder of the school of viola performance in Russia and a pioneer in the field of viola concert promotion, felt an urgent need to solve the repertoire issue to overcome this stereotype. He did a great job of creating more than 250 arrangements of works of various genres and eras for viola that enriched and diversified the meager viola repertoire. Most of the transcriptions (180) were made for viola and piano as the main purpose of the violist's transcriptional activity was to expand the range of the viola's solo repertoire. Also, thanks to his diligent work, composers began to show interest in the alto sound and presented their works to Borisovsky. He was the first performer of the sonatas dedicated to him by Sergei Vasilenko and Vladimir Kryukov, the suite by Varvara Gaigerova, the sonata and sonatina by A. Gantscher, the poem by Zara Levina, and A. Crane's prologue. Borisovsky also performed premieres of viola Rhapsody and Songs of the Dead by Alexander Weprik, sonatas for viola and piano by Vasiliy Shirinsky, sonatas for violin and viola by Vissarion Shebalin, works by Nikolay Ivanov-Radkevich, Vladimir Belov, Alexander Mosolov, Julian Jordan, Jeff Hamburg, Varvara Stepanova, N. Cembreji, Vladimir Fere. Borisovsky noted: "We are very happy when people write for us, pay attention to our instrument, we are very happy when the works are successful in music and comfortable in texture." [17, 24].

The appearance of a number of transcriptions and original compositions marked the advent of the first stage of the development of solo viola domestic performance in the twentieth century. Borisovsky worked quite closely with contemporary composers, involving them in the process of creating viola compositions. The authors of the works consulted with Borisovsky about the use of specific techniques, the timbral ratio of the viola with other instruments, as well as the specifics of the sound of different registers, texture, and stroke features. The composers' attentive attitude to the instrument could not pass without a trace – works that took a worthy place in the domestic viola repertoire of the twentieth century were born.

A significant part of the works that have appeared at the disposal of violists are miniatures and sonatas. Since Borisovsky's transcriptional activity primarily aimed to expand the pedagogical arsenal and enrich the concert repertoire, he chose compositions suitable for inclusion in collective concerts. Most suitable for these purposes were pieces and sonatas designed for performance on the viola accompanied by the piano. The hero-performer at this stage is most clearly drawn precisely in Borisovsky's transcriptions. They occupy a worthy place in the viola repertoire as the musician approached the arrangement of the composition creatively, not formally. It is not for nothing that these works are not just called arrangements, but concert arrangements. This is because Borisovsky did not just modify the melodic line according to the viola range (for example, the violin part on the fifth down); he put his hearing of this musical instrument into the work of the composition. He changed the key for a brighter alto sound, added whole musical episodes based on the author's thematic material, enriched the piano part both harmonically and texturally, saturated the soloist's part with interesting techniques, thereby significantly complicating it.

Borisovsky chose works of various genres written for soloists, ensembles, or symphony orchestras for transcriptions. The main condition was a good musical-thematic basis, which acquired completely new colorful refractions in the viola performance without losing the original artistic content. Borisovsky said, "I recognize transcriptions that show the face of their author. I claim the right of the transcriber to his vision of the original, a right similar to the slogan common among artists: 'I see it this way.' The transcriber, if […] of course, he is creative about his work, is the director of the original, who owns the means of makeup, costumes, and scenery to adjust, and sometimes transform, the characters" [17, 87]. Thus, the musician appears not just as a performer of a viola arrangement but as a hero-performer who can bring fresh colors to the work and new ideas and meaning.

One of the most striking concert treatments of Borisovsky's miniatures is the adagio from the ballet The Bright Stream by Dmitri Shostakovich. This number was originally performed by a solo cello accompanied by a symphony orchestra. Borisovsky did not limit himself to giving the cello part to alto. He expanded the viola part with orchestral thematic fragments. It should be noted that the assignment of these episodes to the solo viola (accompanied by the piano) involves certain changes in the soloist's texture. So, the pivotal performance is supplemented with double notes in the viola part (which is not present in the original). It is also worth noting Borisovsky's change in the play's form and structure. For the work to acquire a complete concert form, Borisovsky excludes the implementation of a modified theme with the development that is present in the ballet. For a more collected and concise structure, Borisovsky retains the theme after the climax in its original form and is immediately followed by the author's ending. Such a decision gathered the ballet number in the form. It gave the play a complete content, without unnecessary thematic fermentations, appropriate in the ballet version and unnecessary in the concert performance. Resorting to such a reduction, Borisovsky gave the number a more winning look on the concert stage.

It should also be noted that there is a fairly detailed edition of the viola part with verified fingering and intended strokes. These clarifications, which are necessary as an understanding in the process of preparing the work, are indicated taking into account the timbral features of the instrument, and the strings on which certain episodes should be performed are spelled out in detail. Even though this work in the presented version is a transcription for viola and not an original composition, it occupies a worthy place in the violists' repertoire. The adagio is perfect for performing in a collective concert, where various instruments are played, as it fully reveals the colorful sides of the viola's sound. It might as well be performed as an encore in a recital of viola music.

Another sphere of manifestation of the hero-performer was the works for viola that composers dedicated to Borisovsky. They also represent the chamber genre – solo (for viola and piano) and ensemble compositions. The viola is presented as a romantic instrument, soulful, sensitive, capable of penetrating the most secret corners of the heart, but at the same time retaining the ability to be passionate and impetuous. This is primarily due to Borisovsky's performance qualities. "Stylistically, he tended towards lyrically-romantic utterances, the bright modeling of musical images, the classical balance of form, the warmth of the viola sound, which brought him closer to the human voice" [2, 757]. From this side, the viola is represented in their sonatas by Vladimir Kryukov and Sergey Vasilenko.

The premiere of Kryukov's sonata marked Briosovsky's first solo concert in the Small Hall of the Moscow Conservatory in 1922, which allows us to distinguish this work as the beginning of the domestic viola concerti. The sublime and romanticized sound of the instrument is emphasized by the powerful piano texture, which requires a bright, rich reproduction of the melody from the violist, which is a kind of foreshadowing of the viola and orchestra competition. The technical component of the Kryukov and Vasilenko sonatas demands, first of all, the right hand of the performer – his mastery of sound in different registers of the instrument, precise attack, and softness of conducting, lightness of sound, and richness of timbre. For pedagogical purposes, these compositions can be considered a textbook for mastering the basic viola colors, including the underlined vocal nature of the tool.

In the works of Varvara Gaigerova and Alexander Veprik, there is a tendency to reveal the other side of the viola's nature. It should be noted that both musicians studied composition under Nikolai Yakovlevich Myaskovsky (as well as Vladimir Kryukov), a composer who was struck by the beautiful sound of the instrument in Borisovsky's hands and asked the violist to make an arrangement of his cello sonata for viola (Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 2, F minor Op. 81). It is not surprising that under the influence of Borisovsky's performing personality, Myaskovsky's students Gaigerov and Veprik created viola works that reflected a fresh vision of the instrument.

In these works, the first attempts at emancipation are observed.The sides of the alto sound are not coincidentally an appeal to the "game" genre of the scherzo. Composers use the characteristic techniques of the game (sul ponticello, long-sounding flageolet) and increase the level of the material's technical complexity. The theme in the character of Gaigerova's scherzo sonata reveals the viola's capacity for a special sarcastic sound for the first time, later brilliantly presented by Shostakovich in his viola sonata. The composer strikingly also manages to precisely capture the alto timbre's ability to convey coldness and despondency. "Feelings of sadness, loneliness, characteristic of the romantic and contemplative nature of Varvara Gaigerova" [9,101]. In the Songs of the Dead, the Veprica viola scherzo sets off the mournful moods: "The folk character of the songs changes the modern harmonies, giving the melodies an almost tragic color" [18]. The author departs from the pleasant, velvety alto sound, giving his voice an intonation peculiar to him before.

A special place is occupied by Alexander Veprik's Rhapsody for viola and piano. The free genre of rhapsody allows one to overcome the limits of intimacy. In the rhapsody, a powerful concert sound was revealed, opening up the viola's dynamic possibilities. Of course, these attempts are far from the true concert brilliance of the instrument, which manifested in the works of the late twentieth century. Nevertheless, the first step towards moving beyond chamber music had been taken. The colorfulness of the cadence episode is emphasized by the depth and content of the alto timbre. At the same time, the timbral specificity of the content corresponds not only to broad melodic phrases but also to virtuoso material.

So the result is the first stage. The domestic repertoire emancipation of the viola in the twentieth century, marked by Borisovsky's activity, was the presence of highly artistic transcriptions and arrangements, a number of original works. At this stage, a new perception of the specifics can be noted: alto timbre composers. For the first time, composers were so actively turning to the solo embodiment of the instrument, resulting in a number of compositions for viola and piano (sonatas, sonatinas, suites, etc.) in a short period of time. For the first time, the viola was beginning to be perceived as an instrument capable of solo embodiment. It should be noted that the attitude towards the violist changed, and the requirements for his performance level increased, which includes not only technical perfection but also mastery of the entire range of timbral capabilities of the instrument, which convey more and more diverse and complex images. The result of this development is the birth of a new type of musician, designated as the hero-performer. Nevertheless, despite some attempts, the viola was yet to be seen as an instrument with a bright concert sound. Borisovsky was dedicated to works for viola and piano, which undoubtedly brought him to a new level, but emphatically defined the chamber specifics of the timbre.

As Boriosovsky's student, Fyodor Serafimovich Druzhinin already possessed a much greater repertoire than his teacher, but, nevertheless, it was impossible to declare the freedom of choice of the concert program that other string players (violinists and cellists) had. Although violists were already trained as solo performers and there were new compositions written specifically for the viola, it was too early to talk about the complete concert emancipation of the instrument. The violist's solo concert was still an out-of-the-ordinary event. Druzhinin set himself the goal not only to continue the work of his teacher but also to bring the viola to a new performing level, which was directly related to the expansion of the repertoire.

Works dedicated to Druzhinin played a significant role in the development of the violists' repertoire policy. Among them are two works for viola and orchestra − A concerto – a poem by Roman Ledenev and a concerto by Grigory Frid. But most of the works written in this period were still chamber opuses. The Sonata for Viola Solo by Moisei Weinberg, the Sonata for Viola and Piano by Grigory Frid, and the most significant work of the chamber genre written for viola and piano by Shostakovich were dedicated to Druzhinin.

Druzhinin, as a concert violist, understood the need to expand the viola repertoire, to which he also made creative efforts, writing several works for the viola. Special attention was paid to the Sonata for viola solo, Variations for viola solo, the viola duet Sinfonia a due, Fantasia for viola and piano, string trio "Oriental Sketch."

The solo viola compositions written by Druzhinin represent a new stage of development because the second stage of the formation of solo viola performance involved a more in-depth study of the specific properties of the instrument, finding its own path. And if, in the first stage (Borisovsky's activity), the timbral sphere of the viola was just beginning to be drawn, then the second stage required a detailed solution of the issue to determine its capabilities. In this sense, the use of pure instrumental timbre helped to realize a real viola sound palette without harmonic and textured piano support.

In the Sonata and Variations, the author raises the eternal questions that were everyone's concern – the problems of life, death, and fate. The viola is presented as a bright solo instrument in both works, able to convey a rich imaginative palette that includes deep philosophical reflections. If the Sonata, according to Druzhinin, was born "like pure music" [11,105], the Variations dedicated to Druzhinin's student, Margarita Sokolova, were inspired by her tragic death. Both compositions earned the approval of professional composers. Ledenev wrote about Druzhinin's music that "if you define her in two words, I would say that she is incorruptibly serious. In it, we can feel a deep look at life." [3,193].The Sonata also aroused the keen interest of Shostakovich, who later applied some of Druzhinin's findings in his viola sonata.

For the violist-performer, the Sonata and Variations are undoubtedly mandatory compositions to read. The performance of the technical tasks set by Druzhinin in these works will significantly raise or strengthen the professional training of the performer. The composition presents numerous technical requirements, which require a good command of the instrument. These include the dashed palette (detache, portato, marcato, martelé, staccato, spiccato, sautillé, legato, dotted line, flying staccato) and performance techniques (pizzicato left-handed, double notes, chords, natural, artificial and double flageolets, trills, foreshlags, various vibrations). But the performer's main task remains to convey the author's idea, recounting the laws of this world, opposed to the suffering of man. Deep philosophical reflections are embedded in the works, side by side with an amazing variety of moods and characters that convey the complexity of human existence.

The path of the lyric hero passes through a decisive confrontation with fate, irony, spiritual sorrow, awareness of the feeling of fate's inexorability to enlightened calm. The incarnation of the hero performer involves such a wide range of emotions and moods that are possible through the comprehension of the ideological component of the compositions, the use of the timbral features of the viola, and the artistic transmission of all the above techniques and strokes, which serve only as a means of translating the main idea. The viola appears as a self-sufficient instrument, capable of transmitting a full imaginative spectrum without the support of a grand piano or orchestra. The hero-performer gains independence. The deepening of the artistic function also led to the complication of the technical component of the works.

The performer's ability to understand the cycle architectonically plays an important role: to determine the culminating part, develop the thematic material evenly or abruptly, and build internal gravities and correspondences. This determines the success of immersion in the uniqueness of the world of Druzhinin's works, filled with philosophical reflections and a symphonic scale of action.

It is necessary to note the pedagogical benefit of the Sonata and Variations. Druzhinin wrote them primarily to enrich his own concert repertoire, and his colleagues noted that the Sonata "filled the void that was in the viola repertoire […]" [12, 95]. By creating compositions for solo viola, Druzhinin made a significant contribution to the voila's Russian repertoire heritage, expanding the idea of the instrument's potential, both technical and figurative. It's important to note that Druzhinin gave violists the opportunity to speak on the instrument solo without piano accompaniment. After all, the solo sonata genrein the domestic viola repertoire at that time was not widespread and practically did not exist. The pure alto timbre, without piano accompaniment, can be compared to the a cappella singing of a mezzo-soprano. He best conveys the image of the hero-performer, presenting a solo voice. After the appearance of Druzhinin's works for solo viola (and their public performance by the author himself), Russian composers became more willing to turn to this genre. There were works for solo viola by Elena Firsova, Moisei Weinberg (4 sonatas), Gleb Sedelnikov, Aram Khachaturian, Chary Nurymov, Alexander Raskatov, etc.

So, the viola repertoire has been enriched with chamber compositions, namely full-fledged sonata cycles, both accompanied by piano and for solo viola. At the same time, there were qualitative changes concerning the nature of the viola's sound. Undoubtedly, as before, the composers used the velvety muted timbre of the viola, which can soothe with its softness, excite with its trepidation, and move with its tenderness. But at this stage, new features of the hero-performer also appearedbased on Druzhinin's performance qualities, who "tended rather to the lyric-dramatic style of performance." [2,758]. New colors appeared in viola compositions, expanding the instrument's imaginative range. A characteristic feature of this stage is the full disclosure of the transmission ability of philosophical reflection and sarcastic, grotesque characters without piano accompaniment. This duality of the alto timbre gave wide scope for the composer's imagination. This fact is one of the defining features of the second stage formation of national viola performance. An important role at this stage of the formation of the viola was also played by the presence of concerts dedicated to Druzhinin. These are the first attempts of twentieth-century Russian composers to oppose the viola to the orchestra, indicating the instrument's significant solo performance advancement. And although the few concertos written in this language are practically not performed on the concert stage today, they were a significant step towards forming a solo viola repertoire.

Thanks to the composer's performing activity, in the third stage, he ensured long-awaited repertoire emancipation, revealing the concert side the instrument's sound, which was prepared by the appearance of compositions for viola and orchestra in the past period and, most importantly, by the expansion of its artistic and technical abilities. This is reflected in the composers' genre choice: now, there were more concerts, rhapsodies, concert poems, and fantasies for the viola. At the same time, a specific figurative sphere of the instrument was determined based on its mystical component. The hero-performer reached the peak of his development, playing a genre-forming role. Yuri Bashmet, as a hero-performer, opened up new horizons for the viola: "In his hands, the viola is in no way inferior to the violin of the greatest twentieth-century performers in its richness of colors, variety of sound, finest expressiveness, and virtuoso brilliance. Bashmet revealed the new possibilities of this instrument, proved its ability to convey the most complex compositional ideas, the deepest performing concepts to the listener. His alto is accessible to the finest, quivering lyrics, courageous nobility, intense drama, and most profound philosophical meditation." [2, 760].

Many works were created for the viola, which today represent a wide field of study, and most of them have been created by domestic composers. It should be noted that composers did not immediately begin to write new works for him with the appearance of an outstanding violist. Bashmet himself was puzzled by the question of expanding and qualitatively changing the solo viola repertoire. Still, he could not be satisfied with the arrangements and transcriptions at the new stage, as Borisovsky had been before. Now they needed original concert genre viola works, where the viola could express itself in a completely new way. A necessary condition was the involvement of a number of composers, which did not allow the composition of works by the performer himself, as Druzhinin had previously done. Bashmet appealed to many contemporary composers to write a large viola concerto. It should be noted that the composers did not immediately respond to his request: the violist waited for the Alfred Schnittke concerto for nine years, the same with Giya Kancheli and others. Direct contact with composers and Bashmet's persistence in his desire to get new bright solo compositions for viola eventually achieved their goal. Bashmet made every premiere an unforgettable event with his performance skills, and composers finally honored the viola with the closest attention.

The list of works dedicated to Bashmet is impressive. About 70 of these works were first performed by the maestro, thus gaining wide distribution. Fewer works were devoted to his predecessors. Based on the violist's virtuosity, composers could afford not to restrain their imaginations due to the complexity of performing certain techniques on the viola. It seemed that Bashmet could play anything. This explains the high level of technical sophistication in the works dedicated to Bashmet (concertos for viola and orchestra by Alfred Schnittke, Mikhail Kollontay, etc.).

And, of course, you can not pass by the timbral diversity, the peculiarities of the pronunciation of musical phrases, which are filled with the natural breath of a person who is eager to express what has long been torn out. Realizing and feeling Bashmet's performing ability, composers endowed the works dedicated to him with a special emotional world, the diversity of which can only be revealed by a real artist-thinker. Most of these works have the following characteristics: mystical character – an attempt to look beyond the limits of human perception and expose something unknowable and inexplicable. The first mystical revelation in the viola's solo incarnation was the Sonata for viola and piano by Shostakovich, who discovered the unique abilities of the viola timbre, which can allow us to feel a connection with the other world, the world of shadows. A detailed analysis of this work is given in this author's previous publication [14], as well as in the works of other researchers [10]. Druzhinin gave the following description of the work: "Shostakovich's sonata, with its grandeur and monumentality, rises like Everest among a small mountain range of Hindemith's viola sonatas, Millau's, and a number of Soviet sonatas. I would like to say that this sonata should be approached by a mature musician, not only professionally, but also deep and creatively complex..." [12,93]. Formally, this sonata belongs to the second stage as it is dedicated to Druzhinin and was written under his influence. But the mystical component of the work takes it beyond a certain stage and becomes a central aspect in the works dedicated to Bashmet. These include, first of all, the works of Sofia Gubaidulina, Edison Denisov, Giya Kancheli, A. V. Tchaikovsky, and Alfred Schnittke. Now the viola acquired its own imaginative sphere, subject only to it, defining the beginning of a new stage of development.

Kancheli's viola works vividly reflect both sides of Mr. Viola's new character – conceptuality and mysticism. The compositions became significant in the process of becoming a solo performing repertoire and presented completely new ideas. New genre manifestations of the instrument. To understand this, it is enough to first indicate the names of the works: a liturgy for large orchestra and solo viola Lamented by the Wind and Styx for viola, choir, and orchestra. It is not immediately possible to determine the genre from these titles, but one thing is clear: the viola plays an important role in both compositions.

It is noteworthy that both works are dedicated to Bashmet's viola genius. It is no coincidence that N. Zeifas writes: "I don't know how the 'Liturgy' was performed by a very good violist, but when Bashmet plays it, there is literally an untold mystery behind every sound." [4, 29]. And, indeed, the function of the violist in the indicated works is not just important but rather decisive. Even though the author does not give either Lamented by the Wind or Styx a genre definition as a solo concert, the viola part in them is a decisive link that carries an ideological load. Undoubtedly, the violist is the main character of the works, but in a completely different way than in the textbook representation of the concert genre. These works are the pinnacle of the manifestation of the hero-performer.

This is primarily because the viola material does not have a virtuoso character in the usual presentation of a solo instrument with an orchestra. But from the soloist "[…] requires a specific culture of sound production and a special sense of timbre, the ability to gradually make a diminuendo and build a whole dynamic scale of sonorities from one to four riapo […] In other words, also virtuosity, only without fast tempo and puzzling passages" − explains the composer himself [4, 334]. Consequently, the focus is on a new level of sound mastery, a sharp sense and accurate transmission of dynamic vibrations, and the manifestation of the viola's timbre diversity following the figurative component of the work.

Both works represent the sphere of the mystical and mysterious.

This is determined by the second dedication to the author's deceased friend, Givi Ordzhonikidze (the first, to Bashmet) in the liturgy. In Styx, a traceable theme of life and death is captured in a kind of requiem with the features of a solo concert. Thus, the mystical representation of the viola, begun by Dmitry Shostakovich, received another colossal development, the apotheosis of which becomes Kancheli's Styx.

Styx is a kind of climax, a statement of the viola's special role in world performance, giving a new starting point to the viola repertoire. In this work, the viola is not only the author's voice and the main character; it is a unifying force that can work with the two worlds represented by the choir and orchestra. It is a kind of guide between the world of "high and low." In Styx, as nowhere else, the mystical properties of the alto timbre are revealed, its all-encompassing power, side by side with tenderness and nobility. No wonder Bashmet says that "performing 'Styx' is more than playing good music. I felt like an actor playing Hamlet. For me, it is especially important that the alto timbre is given a powerful Shakespearean dramatic role here. It is the sacred river Styx. A kind of space between life and death. That is, the tool is cosmic, generalizing. At the same time, the composer gives the soloist the opportunity to speak very clearly in the first person." [4,503]. Such a combination of the violist's individual principle, as in the usual concert genre, and the unifying transpersonal function in Styx is a unique manifestation of the hero-performer.

With each episode of the composition, the viola's actions become more significant, more expressive, and more clearly denoting their primary role in what is happening. It is worth noting the wide range of images presented by the author for the embodiment of the hero-performer. One of the most striking examples is a humorous sketch. In Styx, the comic effect function is performed by the theme from the movie Mimino ("Chito gvrito"), which sounds on the viola sul ponticello using flageolets.

From a technical point of view, Kancheli's works are not virtuosic; however, they include a fairly wide range of expressive means and performing qualities, the possession of which is necessary for the violist to reproduce the material. The viola part abounds in a high register in both compositions, while the instrument's sound varies from gentle, lyrical singing to a heart-rending dramatic frenzy. It is also worth noting the use of high positions on the viola's low strings (G and C), which gives an additional tension to the sounding theme. An important role is played by artificial and natural flageolets, which exhibit entire thematic episodes. Wide interval jumps present a certain difficulty for violists, especially after a long performance of lamentoso chants in the middle register. Combining cold (non-vibrato) and sensual (vibrato) timbral color creates the impression that the soloist is using completely different instruments, marking the transition from the personal to the comprehensive beginning. Additional colors are added by using the mute, playing with the bow behind the stand, sul ponticello, sul tasto.

A special place in Kancheli's viola compositions is occupied by nuance: sharp and frequent changes of dynamic shades, a huge range of sonority, both for the orchestra and soloist. A vivid impression is made by episodes with a dynamic contrast between the soloist and the orchestra: the thundering resonance of the orchestra abruptly ends, exposing the impartial quiet sound of the solo viola or the soloist's tender, reverent responses to the brutal replicas of the orchestra. With the help of these means of expression, the author achieves a sense of volume, a wide space filled with action. It should be noted that in both works, the vocal nature of the viola is cultivated. No matter what happens, the viola always "sings" but simultaneously retains its instrumental essence, allowing it to seamlessly blend into the orchestral texture and be in a timbral ensemble with the choir.

Thus, having identified the features of twentieth-century domestic viola works, it is possible to distinguish specific solo viola performance features.

1. Decided own voice, soul of the viola. There was an idea that the viola is not just a stringed instrument, the range of which is lower than the violin and higher than the cello. Many composers and performers began to say that the viola is a special instrument that carries a specific function, capable of performing artistic tasks that are not available to other instruments.

2. The chamber stage of the viola's existence gradually changed in concert. With the definition of the specifics of the alto timbre in its entire range, the statement that the viola cannot be bright is gone. In many ways, this was facilitated by the performers who pushed the limits of viola music-making.

3. Extension of the tool's range. The viola's upper register, previously rarely used in works, both solo and ensemble, is now used in extensive episodes. It became clear that a relatively sizeable timbral spectrum of images are embedded in the uppercase of the instrument: gentle lyrics, cold dispassion, furious yelling, tense silence.

4. The composers' awareness of the specificity of the alto timbre and the properties concentrated in it led to the formation of a unique artistic world for the instrument. One of the defining images was mystical. Composers began to fill works for the viola with mystical content, allowing him to reveal his solo potential even more vividly.

5. Uniqueness of the viola's timbre. Its noble sound can combine entirely different sound layers. This ability was most clearly revealed in Kancheli's Styx. This is also proved by the unusual compositions with a solo viola written by composers and new genre forms that have appeared based on the solo embodiment of the viola. Thus, the specifics of the viola do not fit into the generally accepted textbook framework of genres and styles. Indeed, the viola, an instrument of the twenty-first century, requires new forms, as it is able to expand the usual idea of itself.

6. Complete technical emancipation of the instrument, which took place in the second half of the twentieth century, for the first time, allowed composers not to discount it because "it is an alto" [8,247]. Being confident that the violist would cope with any text, composers are not constrained by the so-called convenient range, tempo, or other restrictions. To implement the creative idea of the composer, absolutely all the techniques that are subject to the violin or cello are now used. This is confirmed by the works of an increased level of complexity presented in this article, filled with all sorts of stroke combinations, chords, double notes, broad interval jumps, trills, glissandos, specific means of expression (sul ponticello, sul tasto, pizzicato with the left and right hand, playing with a bow behind a stand, vibrato, non-vibrato, etc.).

7. The violist is now not just a narrator, a performer (in the original meaning of the word), but a co-author of the composer's text. Without this kind of connection, it is impossible to think of transmitting the idea of a work, because it is written not only based on the technical abilities of a particular performer (it should be noted that in this century, there is no shortage of violists with a high level of technical training) but on co-authorship. Complications of the executive function happened. The performer's tasks in the reproduction of the modern viola repertoire include precise command of the text, the transfer of the figurative sphere, and frank co-creation. The violist becomes both the author and the actor simultaneously and outputs the function of the hero-performer to the highest perceivable level. A kind of one-person theater within the framework of musical performance, the ancestor of which was Nicolo Paganini. The manifestation of this new performing quality was clearly manifested in the viola repertoire of the second half of the twentieth century.

So, the gradual development of the solo viola repertoire is inextricably linked with the active activity of performers, among whom Borisovsky, Druzhinin, and Bashmet had a particular influence. Each of them made a significant contribution to the development of the viola repertoire. Thanks to the purposeful activity of excellent violists, today, the performers have an extensive solo repertoire, including works for solo viola, with piano, with orchestra, and with various ensemble compositions. These compositions are diverse in genres (sonatas, concertos, fantasies, rhapsodies, suites, variations, plays, monologues, liturgies, concert symphonies), content (from dramatic monumental compositions to humorous sketches), and style of presentation (from classical sheet music to quarter-tone splits and graphic sketches). The main unifying factor is the embodiment of the viola as a solo instrument, which has its own unique voice that can convey a wide range of images and moods.

In the twenty-first century, the performer no longer needs to think independently about new works for his instrument. Now, composers are actively creating new compositions, dedicating them to a particular performer or Mr. Alto. If before the chamber genre remained a priority, now the viola is the undisputed soloist. This is an entirely new vision of the viola, based on the evolution of the attitude to the instrument itself due to the emergence of bright performing personalities.

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