I first saw information about Nelson’s album, The Complete Viola Works of Quincy Porter, on Amazon.com last month. It was brought to my attention again by an article in this month’s International Musician (the official journal of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada). As a violist, I am thrilled to see a recording of little-known viola works. We don’t have as much repertoire as violinists and cellists, so we often get stuck in a rut of playing the same “standard” works over and over again.
According to Nelson’s website, she chose to record the works of 20th-century American composer/violist Quincy Porter for three main reasons. First, she wants to preserve and promote great American music:
Europe today and in the past, has always been aggressive in promoting their own composers, and extolling their musical talent. This is a trend I wish to emulate with the great American classical composers.
Second, she would like Quincy Porter’s music to become better known:
Quincy Porter was part of a generation of composers that can arguably be considered America’s greatest writers of modern classical music. This generation includes the symphonists Walter Piston, Roy Harris, Paul Creston, Peter Mennin, William Grant Still and many others. These composers have never been given their full due nor had their works fully explored.
Third, she wants to help to expand the repertoire for the viola:
Additionally, I hope… to inspire other violists to find and ferret out neglected masterworks for our instrument, and to encourage all musicians to celebrate our American masters by researching and performing them at every opportunity. The viola repertoire is steadily growing with new compositions, but there is renewed interest in repertoire from the early to mid 20th century. Most of this interest stems from Europe, but no one has yet looked sufficiently at the great American viola music of that time.
I haven’t had the opportunity to hear the entire CD yet, but I did watch the music video that Nelson posted online of the piece, “Blues Lointains”. It’s a wonderful piece, and Nelson plays with a gorgeous tone and fantastic technical skills. Check out the video below: