American Viola Works - Rochberg, Jacobi, Shulman, Et Al

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It's entirely possible that Cathy Basrak's name is unfamiliar; after all, there are very few violists from any age who have reached any plausible level of stardom (and I'm not even going to begin repeating any one of the vast number of viola jokes that make the rounds). In this instance, the ignominy of Basrak's fine instrument is completely baseless. She possesses a luminous, rounded tone and she is nimble and responsive in even the most technically trying passages. We're told that, having won numerous competitions and having performed as a soloist with Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, among other orchestras, the 24-year-old Basrak currently holds the assistant principal chair in the BSO. I'm positive that a bright future awaits her, judging solely by the merits of this recording.

Aside from her considerable technical prowess, Basrak has thoughtfully assembled an intriguing and decidedly eclectic program. There is a trio of works from the 1940s to consider: Frederick Jacobi's muscular Fantasy for Viola and Piano; Alan Shulman's Theme and Variations, something of a standard in the scanty viola repertoire; and Quincy Porter's Speed Etude, an exhilarating ride for the soloist, dappled by radiant piano accompaniment. Two works from much later dates round out the disc. George Rochberg's 1979 sonata features a strikingly dark and moody Adagio lamentoso, and Lowell Liebermann's vividly colored sonata from 1984 is a recording premiere. The sound is rich and full, with excellent balance between Basrak and her two pianists, William Koehler (who appears on the Jacobi and Liebermann) and Robert Koenig (featured on every other work). [12/26/2001]
--Anastasia Tsioulcas,

Product Description:

  • Release Date: January 01, 2000

  • Catalog Number: CDR 053

  • UPC: 735131905329

  • Label: Cedille

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Alan Shulman, Frederick Jacobi, George Rochberg, Lowell Liebermann, Quincy Porter

  • Performer: Cathy Basrak, Robert Koenig, William Koehler


  1. Sonata for Viola and Piano

    Composer: George Rochberg

    Performer: Cathy Basrak (Viola), Robert Koenig (Piano)

  2. Fantasy for Viola and Piano

    Composer: Frederick Jacobi

    Performer: Cathy Basrak (Viola), William Koehler (Piano)

  3. Theme and Variations for Viola and Piano

    Composer: Alan Shulman

    Performer: Cathy Basrak (Viola), Robert Koenig (Piano)

  4. Speed Etude

    Composer: Quincy Porter

    Performer: Cathy Basrak (Viola), Robert Koenig (Piano)

  5. Sonata for Viola and Piano, Op. 13

    Composer: Lowell Liebermann

    Performer: Cathy Basrak (Viola), William Koehler (Piano)