The combination of viola and guitar might not immediately spring to mind as a successful chamber music duo, but one listen to violist George Taylor and guitarist Nicholas Goluses' album Night Strings and some reconsideration may be in order. One of the things that quickly makes this album a success is the artists' choice of literature. Opening with Bill Dobbins' Night Suite, an arrangement of works by Wayne Shorter, Thelonious Monk, and Dizzy Gillespie, Taylor and Goluses quickly demonstrate their interest and abilities with works extending beyond the classical repertoire. De Falla's Suite Populaire Espagnole is the only transcription on the program; Samuel Adler's Into the Radiant Boundaries of Light, Radamés Gnattali's Sonata of 1969, and Michael Kimber's Hispanic Fantasie are all original works for this unusual but intriguing instrumental combination. Unlike when playing alongside piano, when the viola is paired with the guitar the need to overcome the power of the piano is taken away, and a mellower, relaxed, supple sound is produced. The rich sonorities produced are quite pleasant, and listeners may wonder why more violists aren't pairing up with guitarists to perform original works or additional transcriptions of the standard repertoire. Only rarely do the technical demands of the program get in the way. The more frenzied, higher-pitched "Fast and Rhythmic" movement of Adler's work, for example, seems to put Taylor in the position of scrambling for notes instead of maintaining the velvety tone and relaxed pace found in the majority of the recording. Still, this disc is not only unique, but surprisingly enjoyable.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Suite Popular Espagnole|
|Into the Radiant Boundaries of Light|