American Viola Concertos

Randolph Kelly (viola), Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Alexandrs Vilumanis (conductor)

Catalog #: TROY0558
Release Date: February 1, 2003
Format: Digital

Nicholas Slonimsky once wrote: "Walter Piston has reached the stardom of the first magnitude. He has not exploded into stellar prominence like a surprising nova, but took his place inconspicuously, without passing through the inevitable stage of musical exhibition or futuristic eccentricity." Here we have the first modern performance of his wonderful Viola Concerto to appear on CD. John Harbison writes about his Viola Concerto: "The viola was my instrument of choice, the one I picked out as a very young concert goer. It had a commanding awkward size, a somewhat veiled, slightly melancholic tone quality, and it seemed always in the middle of things, a good vantage point for a composer (which I already wanted to be). It was frustrating to put up with beginning on the violin and I was told I could switch when my hands got bigger. When it was clear I would never have large hands I insisted on switching anyway and my first summer as a violist was spent in an informal chamber music group playing Haydn Quartets. That summer in Princeton, New Jersey, I remember as my happiest, the company of my friend John Sessions in the quartet, the wonder of the music we were exploring and the possibilities of the instrument I had always wanted to play. When it came to writing a concerto for viola I wrote a piece for the violist I never was, the true soloist, and the instrumental timbres I felt to be most typical of the instrument, its tenor voice, rather than its rather unnatural treble." Sam Adler writes: "The Concerto for Viola and Orchestra was begun in December 1998 and completed in February 1999 on a commission from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for its principal violist Randolph Kelly. This is the tenth concerto I have composed. The viola has a very special significance in my life since it was my major performing instrument in both chamber music situations as well as in the orchestra. To me, the major attribute of the viola is its ability to convey a most beautiful lyricism." More information on Randolph Kelly can be found at his website:


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Track Listing

Title Composer Performer
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra Walter Piston Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Aleksandrs Vilumanis, conductor, Randolph Kelly, viola
Viola Concerto John Harbison Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Aleksandrs Vilumanis, conductor, Randolph Kelly, viola
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra Samuel Adler Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Aleksandrs Vilumanis, conductor, Randolph Kelly, viola


  • "If any recent release offers testimony to the vitality of contemporary music today, to say nothing of the importance of recordings in disseminating new works for less popular but still worthy instruments, this one does."

    – Classics Today

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