- Nocturne, for 2 violas
- Doppelgaenger Suite, for 2 violas
- Sonata for 2 violas
- Canons and Dances, for 2 violas
- Duos (4) for 2 violas
auto-inserted 09-17-2014 15:56:46
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Sometimes one has to take the good with the bad in life: take for example the husband and wife viola duo Scott Slapin and Tanya Solomon. The very week that Eroica Classical Recordings brought out their excellent debut recording, Sketches from the New World: American Viola Duos in the 21st Century, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Slapin and Solomon were both employed within the Louisiana Philharmonic, and the couple immediately found themselves without jobs, managing to escape with little more than their best instruments. Nonetheless, Sketches from the New World: American Viola Duos in the 21st Century is a satisfying program that, taken piece by piece, provides both insight into contemporary American music and a sometimes challenging, but generally pleasurable listening experience, as well. Sketches From the New World: American Viola Duos in the 21st Century is a useful and representative sample of where contemporary music in America is at the end of the twentieth century, picking up with a couple of composers whose work reflects late mid-century trends, and some younger ones who employ more traditional methods. Not the least of these is Slapin himself, whose "Nocturne" is a soulful, sad, and moving piece in the vein of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for strings." Double bass player Patrick Neher's "Canons and Dances" demonstrates a loose yet colorful and playful approach to counterpoint and a strong sense of rhythm. Rhythm also informs Gerald Busby's "Doppelgaenger," a propulsive piece reminiscent of Bartók's famous violin duos -- Busby was once an assistant to the late Virgil Thomson and in 2005 still resided at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City. Frank Proto is, like Neher, a double bass player, and his "Sonata for two violas" is strongly expressionistic in style, yet follows a fluid formal scheme and features some effective dramatic writing for this uncommon instrumental combination. Richard Lane, to whose memory both Slapin's "Nocturne" and the disc as a whole is dedicated, seems to represent a middle ground between the older and younger disciplines, embracing a renewed sense of tonality yet still incorporating some of the advanced techniques of new music. The Tango from Lane's "Four Duos" is particularly affecting and well done. Slapin and Solomon did manage to hang onto their instruments; perhaps they might want to run through Slapin's "Nocturne" for themselves, and as a tribute to the rest of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.