|Comments:||Ronald Houston said:|
With the rather spartan catalogue of pre-20th-century works available to violists, you cannot blame them looking at such juicy items as Bach's Cello Suites. The American violist Ronald Houston gives highly personal interpretations, as he readily acknowledges in the accompanying booklet. The stylistic influences of music since Bach's era are ever present, both in the shaping of each movement and in Houston's round and vibrant tone quality. The tempos are frequently more spacious than those we normally encounter, and he does not embrace the idea that these are strict dances. That in turn generates considerable freedom in the rhythmic pulse of each movement, with gaps appearing between phrases as he savors the moment. These recordings are not, therefore for the Bach purist. For those with more open minds, listen, for example, to the exquisite playing of the Allemande in the Fifth Suite; here it would be difficult not to accept Houston at face value and simply enjoy this gorgeous playing. These are technically immaculate performances, played with such affection that they made me fall in love with the music all over again. Indeed, I cannot recall hearing viola playing with such impeccable intonation or with a bowing technique that permits such long and unbroken phrasing. The recording quality is of equal excellence, with the instrument placed at an ideal distance from the microphone.