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by LIONEL TERTIS (Viola) and BERKELEY MASON (Pianoforte)
Just as in choirs of the primitive order it used to be the rule that all those who could not sing must sing bass, so the viola in the less efficient orchestras and chamber-music teams is all too often in the hands of those who have failed to surmount the difficulties of the violin. That tho instrument is any easier to play, or that its part need not be played so well, is, of course, nonsense, and for many generations there have been specialists of the violn just as there are of the other instruments.
Tuned a fifth lower than the violin, it is not so big in proportion as that really requires, and that gives it the peculiarly reedy and penetrating quality which is easily distinguished both from violin and from violoncello tone. It can make itself heard through quite a heavy accompaniment, and it blends very beautifully with the other strings.
Although some authorities count it as the oldest member of the violin family, derived from the old viols earlier than its little brother, it had for a long time only a subordinate part in team-music. In the orchestra it had, as a rule, to double either the second violin or the bass, until in the days of Bach and Handel it began to assert its independence and to be given something like the position to which its fine qualities entitle it. But even more in the string quartets of Haydn and afterwards of Mozart, it began to be clear that it might be given solo parts, and since then it has come more and more to the front, and has been more and more cultivated by great players.
Its literature is still somewhat scanty as compared with that of the other strings, and viola players must still rely to a considerable extent on arrangements, as in this programme, of music originally composed for the violin.


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