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Quincy Porter: Complete Viola Works / Eliesha Nelson

Album Summary

>Porter, Quincy : Concerto for Viola
>Porter, Quincy : Speed Etude
>Porter, Quincy : Duo for viola & harp
>Porter, Quincy : Suite for viola solo
>Porter, Quincy : Blues lontains
>Porter, Quincy : Poem for viola & piano
>Porter, Quincy : Duo for viola & harpsichord
>Porter, Quincy : Duo for violin & viola
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Fanfare
The music itself is interesting and agreeable, if not always compelling. ... the quality of the recorded sound is outstanding, and it does full justice to Nelson's beautiful instrument. Incidentally, the sound team received a Grammy for its work. Special kudos are also in order for über-accompanist John McLaughlin Williams, who conducts the Northwest Sinfonia, an excellent ensemble, and also plays the piano, harpsichord, and violin in the Speed Etude, Blues Lointains, Poem and duos. Harpist Douglas Rioth joins Nelson for the Harp Duo, and he does a fine job... I applaud Nelson and her colleagues for making this worthwhile recording, and any serious collectors of American classical music would be well advised to purchase it.

Fanfare
Eliesha Nelson performs every one of these works with exquisite artistry, drawing the kind of rich, dark tone from her viola that bathes the ears in a silky chocolate mousse. ... voluptuously alluring playing in music so beguiling that I'm inclined to extend a very warm welcome to this release and the strongest recommendation.

Fanfare
Eliesha Nelson plays with a big, full tone, always secure, both grandly rhetorical and intimate. And John McLaughlin Williams is a true musical polymath, conducting and performing on piano, harpsichord, and violin. Overall a very satisfying release, and I'm sure Porter is beaming from above.

Fanfare
... Nelson and McLaughlin render the Duo for Violin and Viola with great panache. It's a fitting finish for this unusual and most welcome disc.



Reviews

Fine music played by an eloquent champion
Every once in a while the natural time-span of the CD – three-score minutes and ten – points to a great collection of works by a single composer. For example, Villa-Lobos’s complete works for solo guitar fit nicely on one CD, providing a rare chance to give some focus to a notoriously unfocussed composer. Now violist Eliesha Nelson has put Quincy Porter’s seven works that feature her instrument onto a superb new disc from the Dorian label. Like so many composers from America, Quincy Porter found in 1920s Paris both inspiration and a congenial circle of fellow composers. He studied with Andre Caplet and Vincent d’Indy, and would have come across the greatest musical minds of the day: Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Debussy, and Ravel. But he came back to America with his own American voice. Porter was an accomplished violist, as were Mozart and so many other composers. The result was an inside-out knowledge of the string quartet form (which explains the high quality of Porter’s 9 quartets), and also an amazing body of music for the instrument. Included on this disc are works for solo viola, duos with piano, harp, harpsichord, and violin, and the 1948 Concerto for Viola & Orchestra. They come from the late 1920s (“Blues Lointains” from Paris, 1928), through the American works of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. The Duo for Violin & Viola (1954), like Villa-Lobos’s 1947 Duo, looks back to Mozart’s two great works for this intriguing combination of instruments. It has an often acerbic sound, though one in which the viola’s natural sadness comes through. The second movement of this work is a stand-out: wistful (as Nelson calls it in her liner notes) but not sentimental. That’s probably because in these performers’ hands, the music is allowed to swing. Nelson has strong support on this disc, from the technical team that provide lifelike sound in the chamber works especially, and from her fellow musicians. John McLaughlin Williams conducts the Northwest Sinfonia in the Concerto, and also plays the piano, harpsichord, and violin. What, he couldn’t learn the harp for the 1957 Duo? (Actually, harpist Douglas Rioth is fine in extra-inning relief.) But Eliesha Nelson is the star here: her playing is eloquent, assured, and lovely in tone. Musicianship of the highest order is on display, from her first concept to the final note.
Submitted on 10/30/09 by Dean Frey 
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Works Details

>Porter, Quincy : Concerto for Viola
  • Performer: Eliesha Nelson (Viola)
  • Conductor: John Williams
  • Ensemble: Northwest Sinfonia
  • Running Time: 19 min. 36 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1948

>Porter, Quincy : Speed Etude
  • Performers: Eliesha Nelson (Viola); John Williams (Piano)
  • Notes: Skywalker Sound, Marin County, GA (01/05/2007-01/07/2007)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 29 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Porter, Quincy : Duo for viola & harp
  • Performers: Eliesha Nelson (Viola); Doug Rioth (Harp)
  • Notes: Skywalker Sound, Marin County, GA (01/05/2007-01/07/2007)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1957

>Porter, Quincy : Suite for viola solo
  • Performer: Eliesha Nelson (Viola)
  • Notes: Skywalker Sound, Marin County, GA (01/05/2007-01/07/2007)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1930

>Porter, Quincy : Blues lontains
  • Performers: Eliesha Nelson (Viola); John Williams (Piano)
  • Notes: Skywalker Sound, Marin County, GA (01/05/2007-01/07/2007)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Porter, Quincy : Poem for viola & piano
  • Performers: Eliesha Nelson (Viola); John Williams (Piano)
  • Notes: Skywalker Sound, Marin County, GA (01/05/2007-01/07/2007)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1948

>Porter, Quincy : Duo for viola & harpsichord
  • Performers: Eliesha Nelson (Viola); John Williams (Harpsichord)
  • Notes: Skywalker Sound, Marin County, GA (01/05/2007-01/07/2007)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1957

>Porter, Quincy : Duo for violin & viola
  • Performers: Eliesha Nelson (Viola); John Williams (Violin)
  • Notes: Skywalker Sound, Marin County, GA (01/05/2007-01/07/2007)
  • Running Time: 11 min. 4 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1954