Bel Canto: The Voice of the Viola

Antoine Tamestit ,Cedric Tiberghien

Bel Canto: The Voice of the Viola
14 April 2017

Bel Canto: The Voice of the Viola

Antoine Tamestit ,Cedric Tiberghien

Going well beyond mere historical interest, this album unveils the charms of a repertoire that delighted Parisian concert halls and salons throughout the 19th century. It demonstrates how the viola finally emerged from the violin’s shadow thanks to virtuoso playing, now resuscitated by the talent of Antoine Tamestit and Cédric Tiberghien in pieces which offer much more than the exquisite languors of bel canto. Italian for ‘beautiful singing’ or ‘beautiful song’, the term remains vague and ambiguous but is commonly used to evoke a lost singing tradition; in this case the famed singing tone of Antoine Tamestit’s viola, a 1672 Stradivarius, loaned by the Habisreutinger Foundation.

Born in Paris, Antoine Tamestit studied with Jesse Levine at Yale University and with Tabea Zimmermann. He has won several coveted prizes including the William Primrose Competition, first prize at the Young Concert Artists (YCAT) international auditions, a place on BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists Scheme and a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award.

Antoine Tamestit’s distinguished discography includes Berlioz’s ‘Harold en Italie’, which was recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra and Valery Gergiev and released in 2015 by LSO Live. For Naïve he has recorded three of the Bach Suites, Hindemith solo and concertante works recorded with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and Paavo Järvi, and an earlier recording of ‘Harold’ with Marc Minkowski and Les Musicians du Louvre.

This particular diva is the viola; its servant is Antoine Tamestit, here making his first solo recording for harmonia mundi.

Track listing;


Casta Diva (from Norma)


Il faut partir (from La fille du régiment)

L'ai-je bien entendu?… O mon Fernand (from La Favorite)

Mazas: Le Songe - Elégie on La Favorita by Donizetti, Op. 92

Ney: XVe Prélude for solo viola


Viola Sonata in B flat, Op. 36

Elegie for viola and piano, Op. 30

Capriccio in C Minor, ‘Hommage à Paganini,’ Op. 55



The butt of musicians’ jokes, the viola is often overlooked as a solo instrument. Not quite as high as a violin, and nowhere near as low as the cello, the viola’s most common function is to pad out harmonies or provide accompaniment. But in the right hands, the viola has an exquisitely mellow, unusual timbre. In Bel Canto: The Voice of the Viola, violist Antoine Tamestit and pianist Cédric Tiberghien redress the balance, performing beauties from the wealth of nineteenth-century French repertoire. French Romanticism represents an important watershed in the instrument’s history. In 1848, a specialised viola program was introduced at the Paris Conservatoire.

Although a violinist by trade, Franco–Belgian composer Henri Vieuxtemps possessed a penchant for the viola, and his compositions for the instrument feature. The final Capriccio for solo viola is almost Bachian in style, with its harmonic language and frequent use of double stops, but the beautiful, lugubrious melody is undeniably French, and emphasises the unique sonorities of the viola. Tamestit’s interpretation of all repertoire presented here is virtuosic and expressive, matched equally by Tiberghien.

A wonderful and unusual chamber music recital disc.

Alexandra Mathew

This item is not currently in-stock. It can be ordered online and is expected to ship in approx 4 weeks

Our stock data is updated periodically, and availability may change throughout the day for in-demand items. Please call the relevant shop for the most current stock information. Prices are subject to change without notice.

Sign in or become a Readings Member to add this title to a wishlist.