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Greg Cahill
Strings Magazine, November 2011

…a collection of highly emotive works by such lesser-known composers…dark and lush and steeped in the yearning spirit of the Russian soul.

Paul Orgel
Fanfare, November 2011

Ingratiating, unfamiliar repertoire and bravura playing by both Eliesha Nelson and Glen Inanga make this a very enjoyable disc.

In all of this music, Nelson’s playing is bold, fluent, and musically sensitive. She has the accuracy and fine intonation…but also the compelling musical personality of a soloist. Glen Inanga…is an ideal partner, providing excitement and solid support in the complex piano parts. Sono Luminus provides an ideal balance of sound between the two instruments.

Maria Nockin
Fanfare, November 2011

Eliesha Nelson’s viola has a warm, cream-laden tone. When you hear her play Gaigerova’s sensuous, heartstoppingly beautiful music, you wonder why we have not heard these works before…Nelson brings out the luminous textures of this music with her engaging artistry. Her pianist, Glen Inanga, who plays a Steinway concert grand, is a most skillful partner. His contributions add greatly to the value of this disc. So does the clear and immediate sound of Sono Luminus engineers Daniel Shores and Dan Merceruio.

…the composer takes a beautiful folk tune and displays it in various guises: fast, slow, light, heavy, etc. It’s fun to listen to and you will notice that this finely crafted work is played with accuracy and precision.

David W Moore
American Record Guide, November 2011

All of this music is very beautiful and gets more serious as it goes along. Nelson and Inanga are musically sensitive players, and it is a pleasure to hear them taking on such an unusual program. Most of the pieces are folk-influenced and all are highly enjoyable.

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

Mike D. Brownell, September 2011

Joined by pianist Glen Inanga, Nelson presents a surprising program of four works for viola and piano… Each of the compositions are idiomatically written for the viola, focusing on the instrument’s strengths of dark, rich, tone and melancholy sonorities, and while none of the works are overly memorable, they are each enjoyable and certainly worthy of recognition. Nelson and Inanga do tremendous justice to their program with convincing, energized, committed playing. Nelson’s sound is sensuously deep and powerful… This disc is a must-have for viola fans, and a great choice for anyone interested in well-executed chamber music., September 2011

The viola-and-piano music performed by Eliesha Nelson and Glen Inanga on a CD called “Russian Viola Sonatas” is almost all unfamiliar: every piece here except the sonata by Paul Juon (1872–1940) is a world première recording. The Juon is an interesting blend of Brahmsian elements and Russian folk music, structured in the traditional three movements and featuring some interesting approaches to an uneven meter. In scale, though, it does not approach the sonata by Alexander Winkler (1865–1935), a massive work that lasts over half an hour and concludes with a movement called “Variations sur un air Breton”—and has all four movements in the same key, C minor. This is a dark piece, as the key indicates, and one in which stormy elements are nicely set against calmer major-key ones in which, at times, the piano leads the music and the viola becomes the accompanist. The concluding variations, which even include a fugue immediately before the coda, are impressively sure-handed and provide both players with opportunities to shine as virtuosi. Winker’s Two Pieces for Viola and Piano is a smaller and much shorter work that nicely contrasts a meditative first movement with a Scherzino that amusingly portrays children playing with a spinning top. But none of these works seems as completely Russian as the suite by Varvara Gaigerova (1903–1944), which consists of four short movements reflecting folk idioms not only of Russia itself but also of some of the minority Soviet nationalities whose songs Gaigerova transcribed (Uzbek, Tatar, Kazakh and others). There is considerable chromaticism in Gaigerova’s suite, with the opening and final movements conveying a feeling of desolation while the two middle ones are more good-hearted. Nelson and Inanga have clearly studied these works carefully and internalized their salient elements: the performances not only sound very good but also seem quite idiomatic, even though neither performer is even a bit Russian—Nelson comes from Alaska and Inanga from England. Taken together, the Russian disc and that featuring 18th-century concertos show to just how great an extent the neglect of the viola has turned into an appreciation of its unique and very beautiful sound.

Zachary Lewis
Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 2011

Once again, the Cleveland Orchestra violist has unearthed obscure but highly valuable musical treasures, this time from turn-of-the-century Russia, and brought them to life through animated, richly expressive performances with virtuoso pianist Glen Inanga. In Nelson, both violists and general-interest listeners alike have a true champion. Grade: A

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