The viola is front-and-centre in Destins tragiques, a new album by violist Elvira Misbakhova with I Musici de Montréal conducted by Jean-François Rivest. Destins tragiques presents works that were originally composed in the 1930s based on tragic figures from Shakespeare — Romeo and Juliet, and Lady Macbeth, who was later featured as the title character of an 1865 novella by Nikolai Leskov.These works were subsequently reinterpreted in a more contemporary key: an arrangement for viola and piano orchestrated for viola and string ensemble of Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet, and a Fantasy on themes from the opera “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” by Shostakovich, a work rearranged for viola and string ensemble by Canadian composer Airat Ichmouratov.
With Prokofiev’s approval, violist Vadim Borisovsky created thirteen arrangements for viola and piano of the ballet Romeo and Juliet. The suite based on Romeo and Juliet by composer, violist, arranger, and orchestrator François Vallières features seven of Borisovsky’s arrangements in a new orchestration for viola and string ensemble.
In 2006, Tatar-born Montréal composer, clarinettist, and conductor Airat Ichmouratov created a Fantasy for Viola and Orchestra on Themes from the Opera “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” by Shostakovich (dedicated to Eleonora Turovsky). He then reduced the orchestral part, itself based on Shostakovich’s, for viola and string ensemble.