Melba Recordings

"... a label of fragrant distinction"

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Volupté

01/08/2010
Limelight Magazine (Australia)
Greg Keane

This Melba release continues to unearth rare works by relatively obscure composers. Charles Kœchlin is a prolific French composer remembered, if at all, almost exclusively for his 1933 Seven Stars Symphony, which had movements dedicated to Marlene Dietrich, Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo; Belgian composer Joseph Jongen is known mainly for organ works. If nothing else, the release demonstrates material for solo viola is much richer than generally imagined. By far the longest work (at 30’) is Kœchlin’s Sonata Op. 53 (1912-5), a rich addition to this repertoire. Benedict’s playing is mesmeric, conveying moods varying from languorous to ruminative, and is always darkly beautiful. The third movement andante seems to anticipate Messiaen, with the ethereal voice of the viola floating above pointillistic piano chords. The other pieces which engaged me were Kœchlin’s Quatre Petites Pieces, on which Benedict is joined by the French horn of Ben Jacks...