Like many a budding violinist, I first learned the Chaconne when I was in my teens. Doing so is an important step in an instrumentalist’s development, but one can hardly do the piece true justice at that age. I revisited it years later and on a very different instrument. Here’s an excerpt.

Many composers have written homages to Johann Sebastian Bach. Penderecki’s brief piece touches upon many things – the dance known as Sarabande and its treatment in the Baroque era, Bach’s monumental solo works for string instruments, and last but not least, a lament for Bach the man. I love this piece’s unyielding clarity of thought and the sonorities Penderecki seeks out in it.

I had known of John’s excellent works for viola, such as his Concerto, but the existence of his unpublished and never recorded Sonata for Viola Alone came as a surprise. A colleague at the Metropolitan Opera told me about the piece and lent me a copy of the manuscript. I quickly fell in love with the music’s sincerity, deep lyricism and occasional forcefulness. Its mercurial second movement, heard here, is one of my favorites.

You may buy my solo album, containing these works in full and lots more, from Delos, the great American record label who has published it; on Amazon and iTunes, or stream it on Tidal.