2013 - 19th February Joe Bronstein, Viola

With Albert Lau, Piano


William Alwyn (1905-1985)


Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)

Sonata for Viola and Piano, Op.25/4

  1. Sehr lebhaft. Markiert und kraftvoll
  2. Sehr langsame Viertel
  3. Finale. Lebhafte Viertel

Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)

Suite Hébraȉque

  1. Rapsodie
  2. Processional
  3. Affirmation

Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837)



Programme Notes

William Alwyn's Ballade was composed for the violist Watson Forbes and first performed at the RAM New Music Society in 1937. It's hard to imagine this beautiful work as a piece of new music, but the musical choices that Alwyn made will have seemed extremely unusual when they were first performed; that is how I will attempt to convey the music to you today.

I can draw a number of parallels between Paul Hindemith and myself, the most obvious being that he was initially a violinist and progressed to viola, albeit not for the same reasons as me! The Sonata for Viola and Piano, Op.25/4, composed in 1922, provides a strong contrast to the Alwyn due to Hindemith's style of composition – tonal music with free use of all twelve notes.

Ernest Bloch was older than both Alwyn and Hindemith, but the Suite Hébraȉque was composed in 1951 towards the end of his life and as such is the newest piece on the programme. The melodies are reflective of Bloch's Jewish heritage; as a practising Jew myself, the style is familiar despite not being a direct copy of tunes heard in the synagogue. There is a deliberate juxtaposition of this work with Hindemith, who was in and out of favour with the authorities in Nazi Germany and eventually emigrated to Switzerland partly as his wife had Jewish ancestry.

The final piece on the programme is a cut-down version of Hummel's Potpourri for Viola and Orchestra Op.94. The potpurri was a genre of music popular in the 19th century where well known opera melodies were organised into a medley. The Fantasie is in fact simply the introduction and finale of this, separated by a single operatic melody, Il mio tesoro intanto sung by the tenor Don Ottavio in Mozart's Don Giovanni.



Whilst finishing his final year at the University of Manchester, achieving a first class honours degree in Mathematics, Joe gained admission to the postgraduate course at the Royal Academy of Music on viola. He is now studying for a MA degree there with Martin Outram and Jane Rogers. Recent projects include a programme of Harrison Birtwistle's music with the Academy Manson Ensemble, and Academy Concert Orchestra under Marin Alsop and Pablo Heras-Casado.

Joe is the violist of the Arensky String Quartet and the Aurora Trio which combines flute, viola and harp. Both ensembles have recitals in a number of venues across the capital and wider region in the next few months. 

Joe's ambition is to have an orchestral playing career. He has a passion for opera and large symphonic repertoire, as well as historical and contemporary performance. Future ventures include organisation of  a  Brandenburg Concerto cycle and an investigation into the role of the viola in the world of jazz. Joe plays a fine modern viola by James Stephenson.



Albert Lau, Piano

Born in Hong Kong, pianist Albert Lau is currently pursuing his MMus degree at the Royal Academy of Music, under the tutelage of Joanna MacGregor.  He had previously studied with Emile Naoumoff at Indiana University, in USA, where he obtained his BMus degree with high distinction. 

In February 2012, Albert collaborated and recorded with the Royal Academy of Music Chamber Orchestra, led by Trevor Pinnock.  He also won the 2012 Else Cross Modern Piano Prize at the Royal Academy of Music.  Albert has played in master classes given by Christopher Elton, Stephen Hough, Roy Howat, and Jean-François Antonioli, amongst others.