Ernest Bloch
Naxos 8.570829

Hong-Mei Xiao, Viola
Budapest Symphony Orchestra MAV
Mariusz Smolij, conductor
Recorded 15–18 September 2009
Hungaroton Studio, Budapest, Hungary
Released 13 June 2013
Baal Shem (arr. Hong-Mei Xiao for viola and orchestra, 2005) 14:52
  1. No. 1. Vidui (Contrition) 3:23
  2. No. 2. Nigun (Improvisation) 6:41
  3. No. 3. Simchas Torah (Rejoicing in the Holy Scriptures) 4:47
Suite for Viola and Orchestra 33:37
  4. I. Lento - Allegro - Moderato 13:31
  5. II. Allegro ironico 5:40
  6. III. Lento 5:26
  7. IV. Molto vivo 9:00
Suite Hébraïque for Viola and Orchestra 12:33
  8. I. Rapsodie 6:29
  9. II. Processional: Andante con moto 2:21
10. III. Affirmation: Maestoso 3:43

"I just completed the recording of Works for Viola and Orchestra by Ernest Bloch with Budapest Symphony Orchestra MAV and Maestro Mariusz Smolij.
I aspired to record this CD because I love Ernest Bloch’s uniquely authentic musical language. Its highly emotional and peculiarly personal intensity of expression and distinct Hebraic quality profoundly moves me. His music is one of grandeur and majesty, which expresses his individuality, philosophy, faith, truthfulness and ethnicity.
‘Featured in this recording is the world première of my own transcription of the Baal Shem Suite, which was originally written for violin. I transcribed this work for viola because I am deeply drawn to the spiritually reflective and musically uplifting quality of this reverent work.  Although technically far more challenging to play on the viola than on the violin, the piece suits the viola beautifully, which lends a deep sonority and tonal color to the whole work.
‘The other piece on this CD is the intensely passionate and lyrical work—Suite for Viola and Orchestra. The mystical and Asian flavor in this powerful composition exemplifies the interest Bloch developed in Far Eastern music. Also on the program is Suite Hebraique, in which Bloch draws upon traditional Jewish sources as well as melodic and timbral inspirations.
‘The producer for this recording is Peter Aczel who also produced my Bartok Viola Concerto CD (8.554183). It was a pleasure to work with him again. The recording sessions took place at the Hungariton Studio in Budapest from September 15–18. Since the studio is situated in a historical building, there is no air conditioning or ventilation. The temperature inside is very hot. So a lot of perspiration went into the making of this recording—literally!
‘I am very excited about the release of this CD. Through this recording I look forward to sharing these beautiful and magical music with my listeners."

Hong-Mei Xiao

"It was a real pleasure to work on my third CD recording for Naxos with the talented Budapest Symphony Orchestra. It is thrilling to see how, over the time, one can sense the growing intimate understanding between the conductor and the players. The orchestra has been always very responsive and dedicated, but the added level of familiarity significantly contributed in shaping all the musical details, especially in the complex sections of the accompaniment of the Viola Suite.
The wonderful soloist, Hong-Mei Xiao, was a delightful partner in this collaboration. Being violinist myself with a long career in string quartet playing (I was the founding member of the Penderecki String Quartet), I really appreciated her technical commend over the viola, especially in passages originally written for violin.
One cannot forget to mention the great contribution of Peter Aczel, the sound engineer of this recording. The former pianist and faculty at the Franz Liszt Music Academy, in later decades of his life found a new passion of overseeing the recording process. His great ear, musicianship and tactfulness had made significant contribution to this project."

Mariusz Smolij