Customer Review

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Special CD, 9 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Porter: Complete Viola Works (Audio CD)
I defer to the expertise of G. Studdard, a former principal violist in the Fort Worth Symphony, whose laudatory review can be seen on the American Amazon site. I certainly agree with his assessment of the skills of Eliesha Nelson, a violist in the Cleveland Orchestra, whose recording of the complete viola works of Quincy Porter appear on this disc. And I stand in awe of the contribution of John McLaughlin Williams, who conducts the Northwest Sinfonia in the 'Viola Concerto', performs as violinist in Porter's 'Duo for Violin and Viola', as pianist in 'Poem for Viola and Piano', 'Speed Étude', and 'Blues Lointain', and plays harpsichord in 'Duo for Viola and Harpsichord'. A renaissance man, Mr Williams. And I mustn't forget that Douglas Rioth is the fine harpist in the 'Duo for Viola and Harp'.

But the main attraction here is the music of Quincy Porter. Porter (1897-1966) is not as well known as he should be, but there have been three major releases of his music in the past couple of years or so: the present disc, a disc with his first four string quartets played by the Ives Quartet Quincy Porter: String Quartets Nos. 1-4, and his complete quartets by the Potomac String Quartet Complete String Quartets of Quincy Porter -- marvelous performances all.

Porter was a New England composer, born and reared in New Haven where his father was a minister and professor at Yale Divinity School. His education was at Yale with Horatio Parker, with time in Paris to study with André Caplet and Vincent D'Indy and back in the U.S. with Ernest Bloch. He taught at the Cleveland Institute and Vassar College, became head of the New England Conservatory in Boston and then spent his last twenty years or so as professor of music back at Yale. He died in 1966 while he was watching a Yale-Princeton football game on TV. He was a violist himself and it is clear in this music that he had intimate knowledge of the instrument. Listen, for instance, to the striking (and fearfully difficult) cadenza toward the end of the Viola Concerto, or the virtuosic figures in the Speed Étude, or the haunting use of the viola's lower and middle range in the various works' lyrical passages.

If you are a lover of the sound of the viola (as I am) you owe it to yourself to hear this disc. If you already familiar with Porter's music, you'll want this disc. And if you feel a little adventuresome and interested in knowing some beautifully crafted, often lyrical, always compact and feelingful music written in extended classical tonality by a distinguished American composer, you should hear this CD.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Scott Morrison
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Initial post: 7 Aug 2013 14:46:26 BDT
Robert Roy says:
Very helpful review. Thanks.
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J Scott Morrison
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Location: Middlebury VT, USA

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