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Ernst Wallfisch (b1920)

Having started (like most violists) on the violin, Ernst Wallfisch switched to the viola at fourteen and made his debut at eighteen. His training at the Bucharest Conservatory afforded him contact with George Enescu who encouraged him, and there too he met his duo partner Lory who in 1944 also became his wife.

Wallfisch’s playing evidences a versatility characteristic of many twentieth-century players. His proficiency on the viola da gamba is heard in Telemann’s Overture (Suite) in D, especially in the final three movements where he brims with confidence and his handling of both instrument and repertoire is idiomatic (noticeably more so than the accompanying orchestra). Vanhal’s C Major Viola Concerto (1972) shows equal prowess with a modern instrument, in a very lively and committed performance with great care evident in crafting the Classical phrase shapes. It is a shame that more of such Classicism is not evident in his performance of Hummel’s Fantasy in G Minor, which, with the exception of the final section, is somewhat slow and unshaped; the depth and sensitivity of Wallfisch’s sound is still very attractive, if somewhat unrepresentative of Hummel’s likely performance expectations.




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