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Viola Swirl

The Strad, August 2007

Carlos Maria Solare

The American violist Carol Rodland, a multiple prizewinner in the US and the Isle of Man and now on the faculty of the New England Conservatory in Boston, has chosen an adventurous programme for her debut CD: three contemporary comopsitions followed by virtuoso transcriptions of Americana by Gershwin and Cole Porter. Kenji Bunch's Suite has been previously recorded by its dedicatee, Naoko Shimizu. Rodland delves even deeper into the music; she takes more time over the jazzy Scherzo, and turns the Lament into the work's emotional core. All the other music on this CD has been written or arranged for Rodland. Dan Coleman's atmospheric Summer has the viola rhapsodizing at some length over a quasi-minimalist piano background. Christopher Theofanidis's unaccompanied Flow, My Tears was written in 1997 in memory of the composer Jacob Druckman. It is a mesmerizing study in tonal colours which achieves in Rodland's heartfelt performance an almost unbearable intensity. In the manner of an old-fashioned recital, there follows a string of encores, idiomatically arranged for viola and piano. Whereas Rodland's performances of Gershwin (Fascinatin' Rhythm, Summertime, and I Got Rhythm) lack some of the insouciance of a Grappelli or Heifitz performance, Rodland seems better attuned to the more urbane music of Cole Porter (From This Moment On, Begin the Beguine, and Anything Goes), and she is helped by the witty arrangements of Bunch, himself a violist. As with Deborah Holden-Holloway's Gershwin transcriptions, they are in the tradtion of the creative arrangements by Primrose or Borisovsky, and bring this beautifully recorded and produced CD to a foot-tapping close.