Scott Slapin

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REVIEWS


Bach Preludes, Dances and Fugues, Scott’s second recording of the Sonatas and Partitas:

"Slapin's set is full of delights. The Siciliano from Sonata 1 has a greater range of emotions than we often hear--and they sound authentic, discovered, not imposed by the interpreter....I'm happy to say that Slapin really puts on a show in the Chaconne. He is never vulgar or exhibitionist, but when it's time to turn up the heat, he knows what to do. Slapin is a real virtuoso on his instrument, and the listener is never asked to make allowances for its relative size or unwieldiness. Any nuances or tenutos he introduces into the music are matters of interpretation, not accommodation. He plays a viola built by Hiroshi Iizuka on a viola d'amore pattern.”
 - Magill, the American Record Guide July 2007



"These recordings are extremely attractive in every way…. warm and romantic in spirit, yet very aristocratically performed without mannerism or indulgence. The tone quality is superb, full of variety, and the phrasings full of nuance and sensitivity.

Technically the playing sounds very secure and confident. As Mischa Elman would have said if he were reviewing these performances, “They must be much easier on the viola!”

I feel that Scott has his own authentic take on these masterpieces of polyphony. My other recordings for references purposes are the Suites performed by Lillian Fuchs and Nobuko Imai.

I would recommend these recordings wholeheartedly, not just to violists, but to violinists and cellists.”

  - Julian Fisher, Canadian Viola Society Newsletter, Spring 2007



"As a violist, Slapin has an incredibly deft technique and a full, lovely sound. His interpretation is both sensitive and energetic...for viola players and viola lovers, this is quite an exceptional recording.”
 - Mike D. Brownell, The All Music Guide, Feb. 2007


"Hay mil maneras de tocar esta música correctamente -en ello consiste precisamente la riqueza de Bach-, y Slapin ha escogido su manera, que es desde luego muy respetable y coherente. En cuanto a afinación y técnica, solo cabe incondicional aprobación. Se trata de un instrumentista excepcional, que se documentó muy bien antes de emprender esta tarea....En este enorme mundillo de las grabaciones, estos dos cedés son, por lo visto, algo excepcional. Si a ello agregamos que el propio Bach tocaba la viola y a lo mejor tocó algunos de los movimientos sobre este instrumento y no sobre el violín, tal vez estas versiones nos acercan un poco más al origen de esta monumental obra para cuatro cuerdas frotadas. Hay pocas obras en el repertorio que se acerquen a estas composiciones, musicalmente y formalmente tan ricas y completas.”
 - Juan Krakenberger, Mundo Clásico Dec. 31, 2007



"Behind the above title hide our old friends, Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin and their less well-known cousin, the Partita for solo flute. They are all performed on the viola, in a tour de force by Scott Slapin... (this) is an impressive record of his long occupation with some of the greatest music ever written... I like very much the way some movements segue into the following ones, like the Chaconne almost emerging from the preceding Gigue. Like Heifetz- and almost nobody else- Slapin plays a trill in sixths before the A minor fugue. He has a welcome light touch for the third Partita, which can potentially sound heavy-footed a fifth lower... This recording reproduces beautifully the masculine tone of Slapin's Iizuka viola.”
 - Carlos Maria Solare, Journal of the American Viola Society, Vol. 23, No. 2



Recital On the Road:

"The CD's title is to be taken literally: Slapin and Solomon (husband and wife) fled hurricane Katrina and spent six months on the road...Slapin and Solomon are a tried and true musical partnership, and their repartee in these two agreeable pieces is admirable, with echoing phrases tossed back and forth between the players. In Hindemith's op. 25 Nr. 1, Slapin surely breaks a speed record in the (in)famous fourth movement, which appropriately segues into the finale...the performance as a whole is beautifully shaped and passionately played... I can only admire Slapin's digital flexibility in Paganini's murderous stretches (Caprice Nr. 3) and his courage in tackling the Allemande from Bach's 6th Suite in the original key.”
 - Carlos Maria Solare, Journal of the American Viola Society, Vol. 23, No. 2



"Scott's program notes speak of the genesis of this recording, done after their evacuation from their home in New Orleans and the Katrina disaster in the many months after they lost virtually everything they owned and picked up the pieces of their personal and musical lives...As terrible as this experience must have been for Scott and Tanya, the results of this recording surely don't reflect any diminution of their outstanding talents. Those who know their previous CDs should expect the same high quality of viola playing and musicality and they will not be disappointed....Both Scott and Tanya sound wonderful here, their instruments very resonant and full.”
 - Myron Rosenblum, Founder and First President of the American Viola Society, May 2006



Sketches from the New World:

"The performers are well matched and balanced throughout and seem to handle the huge technical demands of this repertoire effortlessly... Gerald Busby's Doppelgaenger Suite is a collection of four charming pieces. Humour is too often missing from contemporary music, and I appreciate very much the lightness and fun that this piece brings to the disc... these are strong and purposeful performances of challenging and contrasting repertoire. Nevertheless there is something very pleasing about the sound of two violists playing together, and it's nice to know that there is progress beyond where the Bartok duos left us.”
 - Canadian Viola Society Newsletter (James Legge, Autumn 2005)


"The musical chemistry between violists Scott Slapin and Tanya Solomon is evident when you listen to their recordings...Together, they create one richly textured musical voice that soars and delights.”
 - Arizona Daily Star (Cathalena E. Burch and Kathleen Allen Feb. 1, 2008)


"(Busby's) duet for violas, “Doppelgänger,” ...received a brilliant recording from Scott Slapin and Tanya Solomon.”  
 - Gay City News (Jason Victor Serinus, Volume 4, Number 49, 2005)


"The very week that Eroica Classical Recordings brought out their excellent debut recording, Sketches from the New World: American Viola Duos in the 21st Century, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Slapin and Solomon...found themselves without jobs, managing to escape with little more than their best instruments...(Slapin's) Nocturne is a soulful, sad and moving piece in the vein of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for strings. Slapin and Solomon did manage to hang onto their instruments; perhaps they might want to run through Slapin’s Nocturne for themselves, and as a tribute to the rest of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.”
 
- All Music Guide (David N. Lewis, 2005)


Frank Proto’s Soundscapes:

"Frank Proto's Soundscapes for Solo Viola are a fascinating and original collection of pieces that are a real contribution to the viola repertoire. Scott Slapin is great! It's hard to imagine better performances.”
 - Ruggiero Ricci


"Slapin's magnificent playing says "Bring it on!" to the technical challenges, but he helps each work speak its own true, impassioned, meaningful voice: there are few outwardly cheery moments here (Proto does that elsewhere), but everything is kept mobile, fascinating, and changing, without melodrama, posturing, or self-consciously ironic techniques.”
 - Fanfare (Paul Ingram, Sept.-Oct. 2005)


"The three pieces here are three suites and make a genuinely important addition to the repertoire for solo viola. They are splendid works which held my attention throughout - not least for the excellence of the recorded sound and the virtuosity and musicality of Scott Slapin's performances, which surely cannot be improved upon.”  
 - Musical Opinion (Robert Matthew-Walker, Oct. 2004)



"Scott Slapin...puts all eleven movements across with commitment and both tonal and rhythmic command. The total effect is compelling.”
 - The Strad (Tully Potter, Oct. 2004)


"Scott Slapin’s superlative rendering of the Three Soundscapes for Solo Viola will likely thrill even the most anti-contemporary music soul and win many friends. The CD is of excellent quality with rich and resonant sound. The playing brilliant and seductively warm by turns, always polished and elegantly phrased. Now 30 years old, watch for more from this first rate viola virtuoso.”
 - Canadian Viola Society Newsletter, (Baird Knechtel, August 2004)


"His three Soundscapes on this disc display an extraordinary gift for melodic writing and an idiomatic use of the viola while placing great demands on the performer...Violist Scott Slapin handles the technical hurdles with confidence and, as a composer himself, conveys his structural knowledge of the complex works. With strong atonality and long melodic lines these works are not "easy listening," but Slapin manages to sustain interest and convincingly express their haunting beauty. Soundscapes are highly evocative works that fully realize the viola’s range and expressivity. Slapin's convincing renditions of Proto's original and dramatic works should certainly generate excitement.”
 - The Journal of the American Viola Society (Sel Kardan, Autumn 2004)


"These are quite wonderful pieces, with a great variety of changing moods and making full use of the viola's timberal range and possibilities. We have ample use of glissandi, harmonics, doublestops, tremolo, ponticello, 12-tone techniques, and quarter tones, all within the context of very lyrical and rhapsodic sections.

This is a most satisfying CD, thanks to the creative music and wonderful playing of Mr. Slapin. All technical challenges are impressively dealt with by Mr. Slapin (things sound easy), his sound is sonorous and rich and he has the ability to play most lyrically. Highly recommended.”

 - The New York Violist (Myron Rosenblum, April 2005)



Bach Sonatas and Partitas, first complete recording:

"Mr. Slapin made his Hiroshi Iizuka viola sound like it had been around for a couple of centuries. More importantly, he made the works sound like they were originally written for the viola. He has that dash and smoothness that many an older violist would envy. No less than William Primrose is quoted as saying the Bach Sonatas and Partitas are "nearly unplayable". More power for the extraordinary musicianship of Scott Slapin. May his investigative talents present us with equal creativity in the near future.”
 - The Journal of the American Viola Society Vol. 19 # 1 (David O. Brown, March 2003)


"It is an impressive accomplishment to perform these works on the viola. The demands they make on the left hand are great enough when they are played on the more compact violin, but Slapin plays them with no sign of strain at all...I am mightily impressed.”
 - The American Record Guide (May-June 2000)


"This cd reaffirms my belief that many of the best treasures come from independent record labels... Slapin's sensitive interpretations are the reason for the success of this recording. The famous Chaconne from Partita No. 2 is extraordinary. It evokes emotion in a way that is not common for me; a truly remarkable interpretation. The articulation of the fast movements is excellent, his intonation is perfect and his use of dynamic variation on repeated phrases is a nice interpretive touch. This is a highly recommended recording that I hope many will discover and treasure, as I have.”  
 - Jan Hanford, J.S. Bach Home Page (December 2002)



"Scott's performance is outstanding...I like this recording better than many of my violin versions.”
 - Dave Grossman, Bach Central Station



Sonatas by Lane, Leclair and Handel:

"Scott Slapin is a musician of great talent and abilities- a violist of technical accomplishments and superior musicality. He is a violist to watch”
 - Myron Rosenblum, founder & first president of the American Viola Society



“The Leclair Sonata No. 1 for 2 violas with Tanya Solomon on viola II has some wonderful sonorities...…the Bach Suite no. 1 reveals a good sense of style…...the Richard Lane (is) well played by the two performers (Ms. Rosenblum at the piano)...intriguing music for viola. We can look forward to more CDs from this talented artist in the future."
 - The New York Violist Dec. 2000/Jan. 2001


"Slapin's Triptych is an enjoyable addition to the small repertoire for a trio of lower strings. It is beautifully written for the instruments, avoiding any impression of heaviness, and its witty finale, The Hassid and the Hayseed, cleverly combines American folk fiddle and klezmer elements.”
 - The Strad (Jan. 2000)



Two Viola Recitals:

"He has a beautiful sound with a compelling musical intensity, and he plays with a passion that demands one's attention. I especially liked his own pieces which, like his playing, are rich in emotional energy... a very impressive display of artistry and musicality.”  
 - Virtuoso doublebassist Gary Karr


"Slapin has a rich resonant sound and phrases magisterially.”
 - The American Record Guide (March-April 2000)



"This is an impressive set for the strong musicality of it all and the difficult music played so well... his sound is robust and resonant and the interpretations most musical. What... comes across is Mr. Slapin's ever-present musicality and his wide breadth of conceptions... His own composition, 'Triptych' is a charming work, imbued with a string folk element and strong rhythmic dance-like features (these would be a delightful addition to any viola recital)... These CDs contain many lovely moments.”
 - The New York Violist Nov. 1999


Paganini’s 24 Caprices:

"Violist Scott Slapin explores the caprices further for violistic depth in his latest CD, Paganini's 24 Caprices (Eroica Classical Recordings JDT3420). With the album, he etches his name into history as the violist to have recorded the full set of caprices after violist and artist Emanuel Vardi's groundbreaking 1965 recording for the Epic label.”
 
- Strings Magazine (Rory Williams Dec. 2008)


"This is an excellent set of recordings of the Paganini Caprices, performed with great virtuosity and grace. They are inspiring to listen to, and inspire not a little envy within me. He makes it all sound so easy, although we all know otherwise....The quality of the recordings themselves is remarkable, not to mention the performer's interpretation. They stand up well in comparison to the many recordings that are on the market, performed on the violin. There are no technical glitches or shortcuts that I could tell. I have heard Scott's Bach Sonatas and Suites recording, and these are at the same high level of playing. I am familiar with the Emanuel Vardi recordings, and I would go so far as to recommend Scott, over and above the former...He makes me want to learn them, too. There is educational value in these recordings as there are many violists who impose limits on what they can/cannot do...Could it be, simply that for lack of trying that more violists don't play the caprices?..Some violists have compromised the size of their instrument to such a degree that they compromise the tone that makes the viola worthy of study in the first place.

With Mr. Slapin, I think that he has made no compromises....My recommendation is that they should be in every violist's library, and that violinists and cellists would find them entertaining, as well. Excuse me, but I have to now get back to practising!!!”
 - Journal of the Canadian Viola Society (Julian Fisher, 2008)


"One thing is certain: all viola players will have to hear both: Vardi's because we have always heard our elders rave about it, and Slapin's to remind ourselves that not all great players belong to the distant past.
 - Journal of the American Viola Society (Carlos Maria Solare Vol. 25, No. 1)



Reflection:

"Este es un atractivo cedé que nos presenta la viola en todo su esplendor sonoro: y además es un disco producido en familia...Las interpretaciones son de alta calidad: afinación perfecta, sonido redondo... Slapin compone en un estilo tonal, prefiere líneas melódicas descendentes, y huye de ritmos machacones. Aun cuando utiliza a veces acompañamientos de carácter obstinado, procura que la línea melódica sea lo más libre posible, rítmicamente hablando, lo que torna su música inesperadamente interesante...Un cedé diferente, muy personal y hecho con mucho cariño.”  
 - Mundo Clásico (Juan Krakenberger, Dec. 20, 2007)


"A family affair in the best sense of the word, this recording features compositions by violist Scott Slapin, performed by him, his viola-playing wife, his late mother (a cellist), as well as his father and uncle, both doublebass players... thanks to Slapin's idiomatic writing, the music's full textures often suggest that more people might be involved than is actually the case... Slapin's ear for string colors is evident throughout this beautifully played and lovingly produced recording, which I have enjoyed immensely.”
 - Journal of the American Viola Society (Carlos Maria Solare, Spring 2010)


All Viola, All the Time:

"All Viola, All the Time is a must have for any fan of multiple viola music, containing some gorgeous new repertoire, all composed by Scott Slapin over the past five years. Performed by husband and wife duo Scott Slapin and Tanya Solomon, the works in question range from viola solo, duo, trio, and quartet to a full suite for solo viola and viola orchestra (or the viola section of the Slapin-Solomon Radio Orchestra, as they choose to call it). Recorded over the span of several years, this is no mean feat of ensemble, as each track would have been layered without the aid of a click track, due to the elasticity of the tempi of these works. The richness and seamlessness of Solomon and Slapin's sounds is impressive, and the lyrical phrasing reflects their intimate connection with the music.

The first track, Capricious for Viola Trio, is a tribute to the late Emanuel Vardi, and gives deference to his love for the Paganini Caprices on the viola. A duet, Five Pieces for a Memorial Concert, pays homage to Margi Ramsey, and its third movement Elegy Caprice certainly brings to mind Stravinsky's Elegy. The Suite for Viola and Viola Orchestra is at turns mournful, but mostly rollicking good fun, with much more simplicity and folk references in the music, especially in the first movement Tune. One could easily imagine this work, or movements thereof, being performed by a professional soloist, with advanced students handling the orchestral parts. The final work, Recitation for Solo Viola, is a virtuosic show piece, originally commissioned for the 2008 International Primrose Competition.

As for the composer? Slapin has an astounding gift for melody, and gives us many moments of exquisite sadness without allowing the music to become too lugubrious. The alternation of these mournful moments with sections of intense, impulsive, almost gypsy-ish rhythmic seem a hallmark of his work...I must admit I don't usually listen to a lot of multiple viola music... but next time I decide to stay at home, listen to the rain and drink tea, this will be one of my top choices.

The CD is available through digital download only, and to find further information, soundbytes, and program notes, you should visit www.scottslapin.com."
 - Jounal of the Canadian Viola Society (Sarah Ross, Autumn 2012)


"In a technical tour de force, all parts are played by Slapin and Tanya Solomon. I was glad to catch up with Recitative, a piece commissioned by the Primrose Competition in 2008 and widely played since; here it is eloquently performed by the composer in a recording from 2007, the ink as it were still fresh on the manuscript. Capricious, Slapin's witty homage to his late teacher Emanuel Vardi, was performed to great acclaim at the concluding concert of the Rochester Viola Congress.... balance and ensemble are perfectly unanimous... Five Pieces for a Memorial Concert works very well as a succession of variously scored pieces of a mostly melancholic hue (they were written for a concert in memory of Slapin's mother who passed on in 2008). At the group's heart is the unaccompanied Elegy-Caprice, beautifully intoned by the composer, and the four-part Postlude pays homage to his mother (a cellist) by alluding to the Sarabande from Bach's D-Minor Suite. Slapin's unashamedly tonal music, needless to say, fits the viola like the proverbial glove and, equally obviously, receives here ideal performances from both players in their various roles. The recording quality is agreeably life-like."
 - Journal of the American Viola Society Vol. 29, No. 1 (Carlos Maria Solare, Spring 2013)