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Viola Swirl

American Record, July/August 2007

Joseph Magil

Carol Rodland teaches viola at Juilliard. That knowledge inspires confidence that turns out to be justified.She has a firm tone, even, well-controlled vibrato, and can play in tune in the highest positions. Her playing has fire and intelligence. The Suite by Kenji Bunch (b 1973) is an enjoyable, middle-of-the-road 20th Century piece. I is extravagant and declamatory, II a pizzicato scherzo with a bowed trio, III a muted Lament of restrained grief, IV a cadenza for the viola alone that leads directly into a finale with perpetual-motion elements. Dan Coleman (b 1972) wrote "Summer" after moving to Arizona. It is a gentle, reflective piece, and all I can say is he must have moved to Northern Arizona, because this piece doesn't at all evoke the brutal, roasting summers I knew as a boy growing up in the Phoenix suburbs. Christopher Theofanidis (b 1967) wrote "Flow My Tears" for solo viola on the death of his mentor, the composer Javob Druckman. The piece is agonized, demanding deliberate tonal distortion from the performer. Gershwin's familiar songs have been arranged for Rodland by Doborah Holden Holloway. She plays them with easy elegance and doesn't try to force the viola to imitate the violin's brilliance. The Cole Porter tunes were arranged for Rodland by Kenji Bunch. "Begin the Beguine" is especially effective for the viola's tenor voice. Rodland plays a fine Carlo Ferdinando Landolfi viola made in Milan in 1765.