• For solo viola
  • Duration: 8 minutes

This piece for solo viola was composed for, and dedicated to, Philip Heyman in 2023. It is an idiomatic transcription of the Adagio and Scherzo for solo cello (1983).

The dark brooding intensity of the C minor Adagio gives way to an unconventional Scherzo, set for the most part in common time instead of the usual quick triple time.

The initial five-note motif pays tribute to Shostakovich, and recurs persistently in a variety of developed guises, gaining in intensity as the piece progresses.

There are numerous expressive interpolated reminders of the Adagio, and new scherzo motifs appear – pithy and rhythmic, and always increasing the overall intensity.

Various viola techniques are used here: prominent use of open strings, pizzicato, tremolando, right-hand pizzicato and sul ponticello. The work ends somewhat unexpectedly with a downward pizzicato flourish.


Play Video

See and hear a digitally generated extract of the score


‘Adagio & Scherzo’  for solo viola is published by UMP.


  1. 20 November 2023.  Lunchtime concert at All Saints Church, Penarth, near Cardiff, Wales, UK.  Philip Heyman (viola)


As a fellow musician, singer, violist and composer, I was very privileged and inspired by your wonderful work today for viola.  Such depth, passion and sympathy for the instrument.  Breadth and range fully understood and accomplished.  Thank you for your great gift.

Nigel Lloyd-Latham (former baritone at BBC Singers and Worship Leader, singer-song-writer at All Saints Church, Penarth, UK  21 November 2023

Get our latest updates