What people have been saying
The violists in the Absolute Zero Viola Quartet are all members of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and seem to have, in addition to a love of the viola, a wonderful sense of humour as evidenced in their bios and in their repertoire (some of it also serious, by the way). And judging from the sound clips of their CD they are a very good-sounding group!
Top production values. A real pleasure to own
Not long ago, I put on an all-viola concert with RCM students at St. James' Church, Piccadilly in London. The players, all as keen as mustard to fill the air with the richest string sounds known to mankind, would have gladly tackled any works they could lay their hands on. Spinning this fine new disc from Absolute Zero Viola Quartet fills me with retrospective envy: if only we had had some of these very skilful arrangements to hand at St. James', what an even more cracking programme we could have made.
The performances on this record led me to consider recommending to Ross Cohen that the group should re-name itself Absolutely Brilliant. The variety of sounds the listener will hear is highly attractive. They range from resonant and sonorous to high virtuoso, and the rhythmic numbers have an infectious swing. The acoustics of the BBC studio in Cardiff provide just the right gloss on the sound coupled with a judicious fairly-close mike-ing. Top production values. A real pleasure to own. BRING OUT MORE OF THE SAME, ZERO'S.
Brian Hawkins - Head of strings, Royal College of Music (retired)
There is now an astounding quantity and range of music for viola ensemble
Robin Ireland - Senior tutor at Birmingham Conservatoire, and formerly viola player with the Lindsay String Quartet
Thoughtful and passionate
Alice McVeigh - Daily Classical Music Magazine
Violists will find this enjoyable CD a welcome addition to their collection
This 71.38 playing time CD is the first studio recorded CD (that I know of) of viola quartets. All the pieces are professionally played and recorded. Arrangements for the four violas include works by: Rameau, Bach, Beethoven Quartet op.111 and a Beethoven 'Boogie', Bizet, Chopin, Brahms 'Appassionata', Saint-Saens 'Danse Macabre', 2 Rags, a Tango item, a pizzicato novelty item and 2 Irish dances. Clearly a wide and varied selection not often found on a single CD. Violists will find this enjoyable CD a welcome addition to their collection. Recommended.
Michael Vidulich - President of The International Viola Society
The recorded sound is sumptuous
Just a few days after I received my Spring CVS Newsletter, a package arrived from Ross Cohen of Cardiff, Wales. In his charming letter, Cohen outlined the history of Absolute Zero Viola Quartet, drawn from the viola section of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Also enclosed in the Package were the scores for all the pieces on the CD, so I could examine the part-writing as I listened. I found the CD very enjoyable. The recorded sound is sumptuous, thanks to the fine facilities at BBC Wales.
There are fourteen tracks in total, and the range of the program is large and varied. There is a splendid arrangement of the central movement of the Brahms Op. 120, No. 2 Sonata in E-flat Minor, shifted up half a tone to E-minor. As Ross Cohen wryly asks in his liner notes, "What was Brahms thinking?" for we all know the original is in that most "non-union" of keys - 6 flats! I also particularly enjoyed the Absolute Zero Rag written for them by Geoffrey Walker, Bizet's Menuetto and Beethoven's Boogie, an arrangement of a Variation from the Op.111 Piano Sonata.
To our knowledge, this is the first CD of Viola Quartets, and I give it 7 stars out of 8. I think all of us should support them by purchasing at least one. It would make a great holiday gift for violist friends and colleagues. Many of us will also be interested in obtaining scores and parts. All 14 pieces can be obtained from a PDF CD which can be purchased for about $100. The audio CD is a generous 71min 38sec. Ross Cohen assures me there are many more arrangements on the way. Let's support these fine players on their initiative in making this charming music available in such an easily accessible form. I'm sure you'll be glad you did.
Baird Knechtel - The Canadian Viola Society
A treasure trove of music
Violarama 2014 - Review by The British Viola Society