The award-winning Slapin-Solomon Viola Duo has expanded the repertoire for viola duo through numerous premieres, commissions, recordings, and their own pioneering transcriptions. As one of the few long-term performing viola duos in the world--- now for over twenty years--- Scott and Tanya have been featured at several international viola congresses and have made premiere recordings for Eroica Classical Recordings, ISG, and the American Viola Society. Their debut CD Sketches from the New World was hailed as 'absolutely brilliant' in Strad Magazine, and other recordings have garnered critical acclaim in such publications as the New York Violist, the All Music Guide, and the Journals of the American and Canadian Viola Societies. They can be heard performing Scott's Nocturne in the final scene of the award-winning docudrama Secret Life, Secret Death.
Richard Lane, The Viola, and I
Mr. Lane's compositions include chamber works, choral works, piano concertos, piano solos, works for voice and piano as well as solo works for almost every instrument. His music has been published by Carl Fisher, Boosey and Hawkes, Coburn Press, Mills Music and Editions Bim and has been performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, Australia, Mexico and in the former Soviet Union by artists including principal New York Philharmonic musicians Stanley Drucker and Philip Smith; flutist Donald Peck of the Chicago Symphony as well as countless others.
Richard Lane died on September 12, 2004 in Newark, New Jersey after a brief illness.
Richard Lane wrote numerous solo and chamber works for the viola. In 1991 he was commissioned to write the competition piece for the William Primrose Competition (at the International Viola Congress in Ithaca, New York), and he has written three sonatas for viola and piano, the first for Myron Rosenblum, the second for Ari Rudiakoff and the third for me. He also wrote more than twenty chamber works featuring the viola, several of which are currently available from Editions Bim in Switzerland.
However it was as a composition student, not as a violist, that I first met him. I was around twelve. He taught me a lot about writing (and performing), and he patiently put up with my weekly banging on his Mason-Hamlin piano, regularly putting it out of tune. My piano technique and my typing technique are one in the same and not very advanced. We became good friends, and we gave many viola/piano recitals together in New Jersey and on Cape Cod. I have fond memories of playing his Trio for viola, cello and piano and his Nocturne for Viola and Piano (which he wrote for me in 1995) with him at the piano.
We visited him on Cape Cod less than a week before he fell ill. My wife Tanya and I played him a set of four viola duos that he had just written. He was working on a fifth movement which as far as I know was not completed. These duos were among the last pieces he wrote, and he had not yet come up with a title-- it just says 'Some Duos for Scott and Tanya' at the top. We included these duos on our debut CD Sketches from the New World.
We also played him a piece that I had just written (Nocturne for Two Violas). As a good composition teacher should, Richard Lane would always point out the weaker areas in my pieces and give me some good ideas on how to improve them (and then put up with my protests until I usually realized he was right.) This was the only piece I'd ever shown him that he liked immediately and left 'as is'. He even asked to hear it twice, which is a nice final memory to have. The Nocturne is dedicated to him. Tanya and I premiered it in New Orleans, and it was later premiered in its string quartet version by the US Army Strings ("Pershing's Own") at the Lyceum in Alexandria, Va. It can be heard, along with my Elegy-Caprice, in the final scenes of the docudrama Secret Life, Secret Death.
Richard Lane was a great friend, my only composition teacher and a very fine composer. It was through knowing him and playing his music, that I first realized how much a composer's music reflects his personality and temperament. So, for those who haven't had the opportunity to know Richard Lane, I hope you will take the time to meet him through his many compositions, which will live on in the repertoires and recordings of musicians around the world.