Monday, November 2, 2009 'So all hail to Eliesha Nelson'; She is 'a ravishing violist'; 'This disc is a real find.'

[Quincy Porter, Complete Viola Works; Eliesha Nelson, viola; John McLaughlin Williams, violin, piano, harpsichord; Douglas Roth, harp; Northwest Sinfonia, John McLaughlin Williams, conductor; Dorian Recordings DSL 90911 (73:47) (2009)]

AfriClassical has published an interview on this CD with Eliesha Nelson, Part One and Part Two, as well as one with John McLaughlin Williams.
By MARK SWED Music Critic
November 1, 2009
“Things began looking up for the viola in the 20th century when notable viola concertos began being written. Things are looking up even more in the 21st. We now have several fine soloists on the scene, much new viola music being written for them, and neglected earlier viola music is being rediscovered.

“Quincy Porter, an American composer who died in 1966, probably is better known as an educator." He was also a violist, and if you are viola conspiracy theorist, you might suspect that the instrument was the reason for his being overlooked. Maybe it was. Much terrific American viola music, including Morton Feldman's "The Viola in My Life" and John Harbison's Viola Concerto, doesn't get the attention it deserves. But the viola revival and a splendid new generation of American violists are about to change all that.

“So all hail to Eliesha Nelson, a young African American violist from North Pole, Alaska (really), who has taken a fancy to Porter and recorded his complete works for viola on Dorian. She is a marvelous player, and Porter's is marvelous music. Porter's Viola Concerto, written in 1948, seems to flow and flow. Its four movements are slow, fast, slow, fast, but the piece inhabits a middle path, where slow feels ever moving and fast feels like there is always time to stop and smell the roses. "Rivers, Rivers" could be a Quincy Porter title as well, except he stayed away from poetic titles. "Blues Lontains" for viola and piano was about as fancy as he got.

“Nelson is a ravishing violist, and she is joined on the disc by an impressively multitalented John McLaughlin Williams, who conducts Northwest Sinfonia in the concerto, and he accompanies Nelson on viola duos for piano, harpsichord and violin. This disc is a real find.”

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