Sonata for Viola and Piano in F Major
Granville Bantock's Viola Sonata in F Major dates from 1919 and is subtitled 'Colleen'. It is in three movements and written on a grand scale. In style, it is a post romantic, powerful and rhapsodic work full of profuse lyricism and deep feeling. As one critic put it, “It sounds like what Richard Strauss might have written had he gone vacationing in Ireland.” The opening movement, Allegro con anima begins with a surging melody, just the sort with which Strauss often began his works. The middle movement, Maestoso, is almost in free form as regards tempi and is highly lyrical. The sonata’s subtitle is an allusion to a well-known Irish folk song, Colleen Dhas Croothe Na Mó (the pretty maid milking a cow) Bantock’s use of the melody is subtle, however, and it is only in the finale, Vivace, that there is a real Irish flavor when the music begins a real Irish jig.
Granville Bantock (1868-1946) was born in London. He studied composition with Frederick Corder at the Royal Academy of Music in tht city. After completing his studies, he pursued a career as a conductor, teacher and composer. He eventually settled in Birmingham where he helped to found the City of Birmingham Orchestra and became a Professor of Music at Birmingham University. Several diverse elements influenced his work, including Scottish folk songs and the music of Richard Wagner.
It is a shame that a major work such as this for the viola has not received the attention it deserves. It unquestionably belongs in the repertoire and the recital hall.