Well over a hundred violists stood elbow to elbow on the stage, in the aisles, and all around the hall at Freight & Salvage earlier tonight, playing the solo part of the Telemann viola concerto, while four violists seated in the center of the stage played a much reduced version of the orchestral parts, in a stab at the world record for number of violas playing together.
The result was flip-flopped from the usual concerto experience, and deliciously silly: The solo part was big and lush and loud, and the orchestral part was delicate and concertante-like. The right to play the cadenza in the third movement was one of the many prizes drawn in the raffle earlier in the program.
The all-viola program started with a prelude for solo viola by Bach (really wonderfully played, but there was no program given out and I don’t remember the name of the violist), followed by a duet, a trio, a quartet, a quintet, and an octet, all actually written for viola ensembles, and finally the Telemann concerto. A completely daffy idea for a concert but a lot of fun.
The violist in the Bach was the wonderful Sharon Wei