A pupil of Yuri Bashmet, 23-year-old David Aaron Carpenter is the latest addition to the ranks of viola virtuosos, though this debut disc suggests he's got a way to go before he can be placed alongside the likes of Laurence Power and Maxim Rysanov. There's a huge amount to admire in his playing - the feather-light agility, the sumptuous tone, the generous phrasing - but as his mannered treatment of Lionel Tertis's arrangement of the Elgar Cello Concerto shows, he has a tendency to apply extra expressive effects where they aren't needed. The opening is taken indulgently slowly, and the performance only comes together in the second movement, where there is no space for exaggerated rubato. Schnittke's 1985 Viola Concerto, composed for Bashmet, fares much better, partly because its rather looming expressiveness and elements of parody are suited to Carpenter's larger-than-life playing; he and conductor Christoph Eschenbach even handle its moments of high-camp sentimentality and bombast without a trace of queasiness.
Elgar (arr. Tertis): Cello Concerto; Schnittke: Viola Concerto | CD review