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American Weavings

Rodland,Carol / Rodland,Catherine
Release Date: 03/08/2011 
Label:  Crystal   Catalog #: 839   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  John WeaverChristopher GableAugusta Read ThomasCraig Phillips,   ... 
Performer:  Carol RodlandCatherine Rodland
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



AMERICAN WEAVINGS Carol Rodland (vla 1 ); Catherine Rodland (org 2 ) CRYSTAL CD 839 (68:33)


1,2 WEAVER Concert Piece. 3 Chorale Preludes. 1,2 GABLE Teshuvah. 1 A. R. THOMAS Read more class="ARIAL12bi">Incantation. Pulsar. PINKHAM 2 A Proclamation. 1,2 Sonata da Chiesa. 2 PHILLIPS Toccata on “Hyfrydol”


At first sight, a duet of viola and church organ seems unlikely, though an Internet search shows up several dozen works for these forces, mostly of the last hundred years. John Weaver’s Concert Piece starts with strong organ chords, piquing one’s interest in how he is going to balance the two instruments. When the viola comes in, it oddly sounds almost like an extension of the organ, and the timbres, assisted by the choice of organ registration, are well suited. Inevitably one gets a sense of the great beast being on a tight leash when the viola is playing, and sometimes it seems only to be accompanying or decorating. However, in the course of six minutes or so, there is a variety of mood and the organ is sufficiently assertive in the faster sections to be clear that it doesn’t only get to show up when it’s by itself. Weaver cleverly makes the loud utterances short but memorable and incorporates a big diminuendo into the four-chord organ theme, thus ushering in the quieter viola each time it is heard. (Whereas there is a forte passage for the organ in the Christopher Gable piece in which, despite the kind but convincing balancing of the recording, the viola doesn’t really have a hope.) Inevitably, much of the pace is moderate, but Weaver’s writing for viola is highly lyrical and it is a pleasure to hear Carol Rodland’s sweet tone in this and the other works. Weaver is an organist and teacher of the instrument and, in this 2003 piece, balances his resources very convincingly.


Christopher Gable’s Teshuvah is subtitled “Fantasy for Viola and Organ” and, at over a quarter of an hour, it is more discursive than Weaver’s piece. Again the pairing of instruments is surprisingly successful but, again, there is not a lot of concerted writing, the composer preferring to give one or other instrument its head at any one time. Also again, the writing for viola is exceptionally lyrical. The pieces are nearly contemporary— Teshuvah was composed 2004–06—though Weaver is some 30 years Gable’s senior. Weaver contributes three Chorale Preludes (2009) to close the disc. The first and third of these are based on American folk tunes ( Wondrous Love and Foundation ), the middle one on a Scottish hymn tune, Land of Rest . The presentations are simple and effective, neatly sidestepping any issues of dramatic balance of the two instruments.


Carol and Catherine Rodland are sisters and commissioned the Weaver and Gable duets on this CD. For the remaining duets, they turned to pre-existing material. Daniel Pinkham’s Sonata da Chiesa was premiered in 1988 and has four strongly characterized movements following the form of the 17th-century church sonata. In the second movement, modeled on a Baroque trio sonata form, the viola and organ have equality, the viola matched by the organ right hand playing a single line on a flute stop, the left hand giving a simple four-note ostinato. There is plenty of diversity of ideas in the sonata—the four movements are somewhat sectional—and Pinkham is imaginative in finding ways of using the two instruments, albeit within a conservative compositional style, like that of the other composers on the disc. But the parts don’t really gel for me despite repeated listening; it is rather “bitty.” A Proclamation for solo organ is a useful opener for the sonata, providing a welcome pinch of mild piquancy in harmony, though at three movements in four minutes it feels rather underdeveloped.


The two solo pieces by Augusta Read Thomas are both transcriptions of violin works. As on the rest of this disc, Carol Rodland is an eloquent, lyrical, and convincing advocate. The composer is quoted as saying “ Incantation and Pulsar are … precise, carefully structured, thoughtfully proportioned. … I like my music to have the feeling that it is organically being self-propelled.” This is, indeed, the sense I get from these five-minute works; my only cavil in terms of their inclusion on the CD is that, notwithstanding some passionate passages, particular in Pulsar , the tempo is generally moderato like quite a lot of the disc. Craig Phillips’s Toccata on “Hyfrydol” saves the day. Hyfrydol is Welsh for cheerful , and the composer aims for a “joyous outburst in asymmetrical meters” and duly, if cautiously, delivers it.


The recording is fine. Catherine Rodland, on organ, has some favorites in terms of registrations in tutti passages; a little more variety would have welcome. But the sound of the organ is captured well and the balance between viola and organ is perfect for domestic reproduction. Whether a live audience in a chapel, such as the recording venue, could get such a good balance, I don’t know, but that is beside the point. I am convinced of the viability of the two instruments as a duo.


FANFARE: Jeremy Marchant
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Works on This Recording

1. Concert Piece for viola & organ by John Weaver
Performer:  Carol Rodland (Viola), Catherine Rodland (Organ)
Date of Recording: 2009-10 
Venue:  Boe Memorial Chapel, St. Olaf College, N 
Length: 6 Minutes 11 Secs. 
2. Teshuvah, fantasy for viola & organ by Christopher Gable
Performer:  Catherine Rodland (Organ), Carol Rodland (Viola)
Date of Recording: 2009-10 
Venue:  Boe Memorial Chapel, St. Olaf College, N 
Length: 16 Minutes 42 Secs. 
3. Incantation by Augusta Read Thomas
Performer:  Carol Rodland (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Date of Recording: 2009-10 
Venue:  Boe Memorial Chapel, St. Olaf College, N 
Length: 5 Minutes 22 Secs. 
4. Pulsar by Augusta Read Thomas
Performer:  Carol Rodland (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Date of Recording: 2009-10 
Venue:  Boe Memorial Chapel, St. Olaf College, N 
Length: 5 Minutes 52 Secs. 
5. Toccata on "Hyfrydol", for organ by Craig Phillips
Performer:  Catherine Rodland (Organ)
Date of Recording: 2009-10 
Venue:  Boe Memorial Chapel, St. Olaf College, N 
Length: 3 Minutes 46 Secs. 
6. Three Chorale Preludes for viola & organ by John Weaver
Performer:  Carol Rodland (Viola), Catherine Rodland (Organ)
Date of Recording: 2009-10 
Venue:  Boe Memorial Chapel, St. Olaf College, N 
Length: 8 Minutes 41 Secs. 
7. A Proclamation, for organ by Daniel Pinkham
Performer:  Catherine Rodland (Organ)
Date of Recording: 2009-10 
Venue:  Boe Memorial Chapel, St. Olaf College, N 
Length: 4 Minutes 11 Secs. 
8. Sonata da Chiesa for viola & organ by Daniel Pinkham
Performer:  Carol Rodland (Viola), Catherine Rodland (Organ)
Date of Recording: 2009-10 
Venue:  Boe Memorial Chapel, St. Olaf College, N 
Length: 17 Minutes 1 Secs. 

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