Anatole Mines and the lost alto sonata by Robert Gerhard

Published : 03/12/2021 10:33:10
Categories : News

Anatole Mines and the lost alto sonata by Robert Gerhard

Anatole Mines (Cambridge, July 21, 1915 - April 15, 1993), English viola player.

She was the daughter of George Ralph Mines, a scientist specialised in cardiac electrophysiology, and of the poetess Marjorie Rolfe. Before Anatole was born, her father passed away in a laboratory mischance in Canada. George, who was a great admirer of the author Anatole France, expressed before his death the wish that his next son be named for the author. His relatives took on the commitment of fulfilling George’s posthumous longing. This explains the fact that Anatole, although she was a woman, bore a male name. It has caused a great deal of confusion, to the point that many texts refer to her as a man.

Anatole Mines was brought up by her father’s sister, Lily Hackforth, and her aunt’s husband, Professor Reginald Hackford. She was schooled as a viola player at the Royal College of Music and made her name in the musical world of the chamber orchestra. She was responsible for the premiere of the sonata for viola and piano, composed by Robert Gerhard in 1948 during his exile in the United Kingdom.

At the premiere of the viola sonata in Cambridge in 1950, Robert Gerhard accompanied Anatole on the piano. According to Luis Magin Muñiz, “it constitutes the first example of Spanish work for viola written in postserial language”. Written in three movements, we find both the essence of Catalan melody and elements of Spanish folklore, especially evident in the third movement (based on the Andalusian song Llevan las sevillanas or the very similar Madrid song collected by Felip Pedrell Copla de Corro). Rhythmic vigor makes up the spirit of the play.

In 1956 Robert Gerhard rewrote the work for cello, while the original version for viola and piano remained unpublished and the only manuscript of such original version was held by Anatole Mines.

It was not until Anatole passed away that the manuscript of Robert Gerhard’s Viola sonata was deposited in the Robert Gerhard Archive at the Cambridge University Library. There, and after a successful endeavor, it was located by the pianist Miquel Villalba, who has prepared an edition that FICTA edicions will publish this 2021, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Gerhard’s death.

If so far some viola players have interpreted and recorded their own viola transcriptions from Gerhard’s cello work, they will now be able to perform the work as it was originally conceived by the artist from Valls. 

The re-release and presentation of the original version of Robert Gerhard’s Sonata per a viola will take place at the Auditorium of Granollers on the 26th of March at 7 p.m. with the viola player Mariona Oliu and the pianist Miquel Villalba.

Mark Escudero

Translated by Ester Grau

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