One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month



From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Quincy PORTER (1897-1966)
Complete Viola Works
Viola Concerto (1948) [20:08]
Speed Etude (1948) [2:28]
Duo for Viola and Harp (1957) [10:10]
Suite for Viola Alone (1930) [7:44]
Blues Lontains for Viola and Piano (1928) [6:46]
Poem for Viola and Piano (1948) [4:31]
Duo for Viola and Harpsichord (1957) [10:10]
Duo for Violin and Viola (1954) [11:43]
Eliesha Nelson (viola)
Northwest Sinfonia/John McLaughlin Williams
John McLaughlin Williams (piano, violin, harpsichord)
Douglas Rioth (harp)
rec. 16 June 2008, Bastyr University, Seattle WA (Concerto); January 2007 at Skywalker Sound, Marin County, CA (remainder)

Experience Classicsonline

‘Why don’t you play my Viola Concerto more often?’ Quincy Porter once asked William Primrose. Well, replied the canny Scotsman (according to his memoirs), if you don’t run off with an heiress or jump off a building you’re not likely to get many performances these days. The difficulties for violists playing concertos were not confined either to Primrose or to Porter. Resident section leaders would routinely snaffle jobs in certain orchestras – there was at least one leading American orchestra with which Primrose, the greatest virtuoso of the age on his instrument, never gave a solo engagement for precisely this reason. In any case it didn’t avail Porter, of whose concerto Primrose was a strong admirer.
Porter must have known some of this, as he was a violist himself. His Concerto was composed in 1948 in four concise movements. Its opening is lazy, meandering, a recitative interlaced with burbling winds and noble brass with the viola sticking to its mid-range and espousing lyric verities. It has a similar ease as the Walton but lacks its Mediterranean languor and sensual appeal. Melancholy is a component too in an intimate way, but Porter unleashes his down-home self in the finale which is a barn dance of great dynamism, with witty wind writing above the strutting figures.
As this is an all-viola disc Eliesha Nelson is centre-stage. She plays the Speed Etude – written in the same year as the concerto - with just the right moto perpetuo decisiveness. The piano’s widely spaced writing allows the viola the middle ground once again and its figuration is thereby perfectly audible. The Duo for viola and harp or harpsichord is heard in both versions. It sports a long line, speeds up for a jazz-rich central panel and ends tenderly. The harp version sounds the more ‘playable’ but there’s a certain tangy quality about the harpsichord version that I like too.
If you were a Porter fan back in 1950 you’d have surveyed the discography with interest. The composer had set down his own version of the Solo Suite for Musicraft back in 1939. The Gordon Quartet had taken a punt on the Third Quartet (composed in 1930) for Columbia whilst a strictly anonymous group had set down the Sixth for the small Yaddo label, a company that had also issued the Quintet for flute and strings and some incidental music. You can now find Louis Kaufman and Artur Balsam’s recording of the Second Violin Sonata on Music & Arts CD638. These early recordings point to the fact that Porter did enjoy a certain degree of interest on disc. Of late there has been increasing interest on CD, not least in his chamber music. It would certainly be good to hear that Musicraft disc, which preserves his own playing. But certainly one would hardly find much fault with Nelson’s playing of this tightly constructed and taut work. Its baroque cadences are strikingly explicit and it’s most personalised in the free-wheeling barn dance flavours of the finale, ones that remind us of the Concerto, still nearly twenty years into the future.
He touches on Blues most obviously in Blues Lontains for Viola and Piano, the earliest work here, dating from 1928 – it’s alternately rugged and keening. But he’s at his most exploratory in the Duo for violin and viola of 1954, where he uses dissonance creatively and malleably. The see-sawing violin figures of the central Lento contrast with the viola’s richer freedoms, and both conjoin in an ebullient and engaging dialogue in the finale. Porter had no problems with finales. He gave them a stomping good time.
Nelson is a fine guide, judging Porter’s temper and tone with real sensitivity and skill. She has the multi-faceted John McLaughlin Williams with her – playing piano, violin, harpsichord and conducting in the Concerto. The only thing he doesn’t do is play the harp. For shame!
Warmly recorded, the engineers have ensured that Porter’s discreet aural promotion of the viola is securely projected. If you enjoy Robert Russell Bennett, and like the kind of Americana that Louis Kaufman liked – Piston, Barber et al – then you will find Porter very much to your liking.
Jonathan Woolf

And a second review – more of a footnote really … from Rob Barnett:-
There was a time when, in cassette tape exchanges with American collectors I was discovering US composers at a dizzying rate. Some stuck with me and some did not. Porter just didn’t. Good friends sent me tape transfers of LPs of his Symphony No. 2 with the Louisville Orchestra and the redoubtable Robert Whitney on Louisville LOU642 and the first recording of the Viola Concerto with Paul Angerer and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Max Schönherr on Desto D410. More recently there have been CDs of the string quartets on Naxos and of the two symphonies on Albany. The Viola Concerto first saw light of day at the American Music Festival on 16 May 1948 where the solo was Paul Doktor and the CBS Symphony Orchestra was piloted by Dean Dixon.
Porter studied with André Caplet and Vincent d'Indy in France and with Ernest Bloch in New York. Howard Hanson admired the sheer beauty of Porter’s writing. Sure enough it is that lyricism, as liberated by Eliesha Nelson and John McLaughlin Williams, that is to the fore in the Viola Concerto – a work which left me cold all those years ago when listening to the Angerer version. Nelson lays bare the limpid and singing soul of the Concerto and also makes a steadfast and emotionally informed case for the other shorter and mood-varied pieces which together make up Porter’s complete music for viola.

Rob Barnett



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.