Violist Victor de Almeida: Stravinsky Rite of Spring - read my review
Violists of the world, rejoice! Los Angeles-based freelance violist Victor de Almeida has boosted the repertoire for the instrument recently with brilliant performances on his personally released CD of two compelling showpieces; Almeida's unique and extraordinarily inventive transcription for viola and piano of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and a definitive performance of Los Angeles-based composer George N. Gianopoulos’ irresistibly optimistic Hatzlacha Rabbah!!! (Much Success!!!). Almeida’s brilliant collaborator on the CD is Los Angeles-based pianist Harout Senekeremian.
Not the first iteration for viola and piano of Stravinsky's enormous and complicated ballet score, Almeida's Rite of Spring is far more than a transcription, venturing beyond his predecessors in thoughtful dissection and careful re-voicing of the original scores to give his version as much orchestral color and authenticity as possible.
Artistic license is skillfully employed by Almeida to frame and color his version of The Rite of Spring in a manner and to a level of expertise that both flatters his technical mastery of the instrument and his romantic take on the score. A profound understanding of Stravinsky’s muse (six years studying the scores) gives the arrangement and by extension its performance, both already brimming with creative independence, additional authenticity and cachet.
Folk centered yet urbane in compositional style, Gianopoulos’ Hatzlacha Rabbah!!! the other work on the CD is spirited from the get-go, a playful and joyous celebratory dance; the perfect salute to Almeida’s Stravinsky project. For its optimism alone, the piece is a wonderful programming discovery. Originally a viola duet, the composer rearranged Hatzlacha Rabbah!!! for viola and piano and dedicated the new version to Almeida – mazel tov!
The CD is no longer generally available, but both performances can be found on YouTube. Former Principal Viola of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Evan Wilson, was Almeida’s mentor and producer for the Stravinsky portion of the CD. Scott Hosfeld produced the Gianopoulos segment. Overall Sound Engineer for the project was Damon Tedesco with whom Almeida works regularly in the Hollywood film and television industry.
Daniel Kepl | Performing Arts Review
Violist Victor de Almeida
Pianist Harout Senekeremian
Composer George N. Gianopoulos