SOLA: Music for viola by women composers

Rosalind Ventris’s debut solo album features a selection of music for unacccompanied viola composed between 1930 (Imogen Holst’s impressive Suite for Viola) and the present day (a 2020 lockdown miniature by Thea Musgrave).

The largely British and Irish programme allows Ventris to revive substantial works by important yet still often overlooked twentieth-century composers – not only Holst but also Lillian Fuchs, Elizabeth Maconchy, Elisabeth Lutyens and Grażyna Bacewicz – alongside more recent additions to the repertoire from Musgrave, Sally Beamish and Amanda Feery.

With several of the composers themselves professional string players, this is, in Ventris’s words, ‘wonderful music – that just happens to be by women composers’.

This brilliantly niche recording, featuring 20th- and 21st-century music by female composers for solo viola, is one happy outcome of the pandemic ... The result of Ventris's curiosity and tenacity is this beautiful, varied and enlightening programme of nine works, composed from 1930 to the present day ... Imogen Holst's Suite for Violais the oldest work featured and offers a modernist take on the Baroque suite. Ventris brings absolute technical assurance and a vivid sense of line to the rapid shifts of mood and register in the work's mobile Prelude, while her sonorous account of the Saraband ranges from restrained melancholy to the depths of feeling ... Thea Musgrave's Light at the End of the Tunnel,
(commissioned by the BBC at the height of the pandemic) chartsa course from despair to hope, and receives a deeply affecting interpretation from Ventris. In all, beautifully performed and recorded, and with excellent sleeve notes from Katy Hamilton"



Recent releases confirmed Rosalind Ventris as a viola player with whom to reckon, and this first recital accordingly underlines her technical prowess and breadth of sympathies ... After the tensile energy of a piece by Grażyna Bacewicz comes the only work Lillian Fuchs wrote for her instrument, its two movements taking in an opulent Fantasia then a Pastorale whose ruminative poise alternates with robust impetus before the decisive close. Amanda Feery offers a study in emotional remoteness well suited to its Antarctic inspiration, and Sally Beamish one whose technical panache amply underlines her own ability as viola player ... With sound that brings out the full timbral and expressive range of the musician’s playing, this adds up to a consistently impressive statement of intent as well as a persuasive overview of music which, in the words of Ventris herself, ‘just happens to be by women composers’


"The viola is not always thought of as a solitary instrument, if we hear it in recital it is usually with other instrumentalists, but here Rosalind Ventris showed that the instrument’s rich elegiac lower tones and singing higher register can make a really expressive protagonist..."

"Spotlighting an instrument often left in the background, SOLA is a rewarding solo recital of 20th- and 21st-century music from the viola playerRosalind Ventris, who lavishes gorgeously full-bodied playing, weighty yet poised, on music by eight women. Highlights include Elisabeth Lutyens’s Echo of the Wind, Ventris’s viola all swoops and glides, Thea Musgrave’s melancholic In the Still of the Night, and a wonderfully idiomatic 1930 Suite byImogen Holst, taken out of her usual sidekick/daughter context for once and put deservedly in the spotlight"


"This ear-opening recital of music for unaccompanied viola by female composers is beautifully curated and performed, with highlights including Amanda Feery's eerily beguiling Boreal (where Ventris summons some suitably ethereal colours from an instrument that's also capable of packing a real punch in the lower register), Sally Beamish's declamatory Pennillion, and Thea Musgrave's haunting Light at the End of the Tunnel (commissioned by BBC Radio 3 during lockdown) ... "


"The British musician Rosalind Ventris' choices are as rich and illuminating as her performances .. One of the highlights is Lillian Fuchs' wonderfully knotty and sonorous Sonata Pastorale, the second movement at once fragile and robust ... Elisabeth Lutyens' Echo of the Wind is squally and headstrong, while Imogen Holst's Suite for Viola conveys angush with visceral power ... a uniformly engrossing disc"

★ ★ ★ ★

Release Date: 27 January 2023
Catalogue No: DCD34292
Total playing time: 1:06:00

Recorded at Wyastone Concert Hall on 19-21 December 2020

Original 24-bit recordings mastered by Delphian Records
24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter



Singing In Secret: Clandestine Catholic Music by William Byrd CD Delphian Records


1. Kaprys Polski -

Featured interview - The Gramophone Podcast


Rosalind Ventris on SOLA

Hattie Butterworth caught up with Rosie to learn more about the album and why she thinks it's important to advocate for this music:

Album Booklet

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