The Scottish Viola - A Tribute to Watson Forbes
The Scottish violist Watson Douglas Buchanan Forbes (1909-1997) was one of the most eminent British musicians of the last century. His influence was widely felt through his activities as a soloist, chamber music player, teacher and coach. He was also the dedicatee of a substantial corpus of solo works written for him specifically or for the chamber music ensembles of which he was a member. However, he is perhaps best known throughout the string playing world as an arranger of music. Much of this is for viola, but his arrangements are also for violin, cello and several wind instruments.
“Like so many violists, as a young player I first encountered the name of Watson Forbes through his sets of arrangements. In 1989, at an eightieth birthday celebration for Forbes I finally had the pleasure of meeting the veteran violist. This meeting came about through my teacher John White, himself a pupil of Forbes. I am greatly indebted to John for his inestimable support and encouragement with this and countless other projects. I would like to dedicate this disc to him as a token of my gratitude for his friendship and guidance over many years.”
“As somebody who appreciates historic continuity, I am very glad to see a Royal Academy of Music professor honouring one of his illustrious predecessors. Having studied with John White, Martin Outram is a grand-student of the ‘other’ great Scots viola player, Watson Forbes (1909–97), and so a tradition lives on. Forbes is best known for his numerous transcriptions, and those of Rameau’s celebrated Tambourin, Bach’s Sinfonia and that 19th-century concoction known as ‘Nardini’s Concerto’ are included here. All bear testimony to Forbes’s ability to place a good tune wherever in the viola’s register it works best. Robin Orr’s Sonata, William Alwyn’s Sonatina no.2 and Alan Richardson’s various compositions were all dedicated to Forbes, while St Andrews Solo by Sebastian Forbes (Watson’s eldest son) was the set piece in a competition held in the great man’s birthplace on his centenary. It is the Scherzetto from Orr’s piece, with its faint echo of a Scottish reel, that best lives up to this well-recorded CD’s title. Beautifully seconded by his permanent piano partner, Julian Rolton, Outram performs most eloquently: whether in the Baroque transcriptions or in the moderately modern idioms of the original works, he invariably finds the right colours while phrasing subtly and with great beauty of tone. His engaging booklet notes are a further bonus.” Carlos María Solare, The Strad
‘Outram proves himself a player in the Primrose mould, with sumptuous tone and sensitivity’ BBC Music Magazine
The market isn’t exactly awash with viola recitals so this one should be welcomed with open arms and Nimbus have to be congratulated. Watson Forbes (1909-1997) studied with Paul Beard, Albert Sammons and Lionel Tertis in London and played under Beecham in the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Later in his career he was a member of the LSO. Over and above his orchestral work, Forbes was also a highly regarded performer of chamber music. His skills as an arranger are also on show in this recital – the Nardini, Rameau and Bach works are presented here in his own arrangements.
"Outram is the esteemed violist of the Maggini Quartet, great ambassadors for British chamber music. He’s also a well known soloist. Rolton is his duo colleague, and he too, as a member of the Chagall Trio, has done very fine things on disc and in recital. Together they are outstandingly successful in this repertoire, catching its moods and colours with great charm and sensitivity. An excellent booklet note and well judged recording balance helps no end. This is a really worthwhile salute to a splendid musician." Jonathan Woolf, musicweb-international.com