REVIEWS

Amaro Dubois has prepared a scrumptious smorgasbord of culture for us on his latest album, Adoration-Music of the Americas. A melting pot of lullabies, fantasies, tangos, and lieder, this album presents under-represented composers with a generous shaker full of Brazil and a sprinkle of China, as he brings awareness to the works of South American, Afro-American, and women composers. The tempos and textures and styles change, but one thing remains true of Dubois. He uses that big, fat tone of his to impart overwhelming passion while he paints the air with his skillful use of color.

Dubois and pianist Tingting Yao play as one. Yao in her own right is a masterful pianist, bold, sensitive, and delicate as needed-
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a rare combination of a superb soloist and servant wrapped in one. 

— Judith Markovitch, Composer

“Violist, Amaro Dubois’ new recording, Adoration- Music of the Americas is beautifully performed. Its representation of composers Prices, Clarke, Taylor, Piazzola, Villa-Lobos, Peixe, and Fanny Mendelssohn will hopefully catapult these composers and compositions into the mainstream of viola repertoire. Enjoy!

— Raffaele Ponti: Artistic Director & Conductor, Paducah Symphony Orchestra

“I am sure that this very talented young man will make a beautiful and meaningful impact for many musicians and especially violists. In addition, Amaro is a good reminder of all the wonderful talent Latin America has to offer the world.”

— Christian Colberg: Principal Viola, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

In Adoration - Music of the Americas, Amaro Dubois delivers soulful, passionate and richly spirited performances for each of the pieces therein. Accompanied by Tingting Yao on piano, these two dynamic artists present a beautiful set of pieces that pay homage to the rich musical landscape of the Americas, shining a spotlight on composers that have once been underserved in the repertoire, but here so joyously celebrated for the gems they truly are.

 

What an enormous gift Dubois has for lyricism as he presents various sound worlds and colors through the viola. There is a such a diverse range of interesting repertoire on this disc.

 

It opens with 2 colorful works by Florence Price, who’s rich, deeply emotional voice is carried out by the lush tones of Dubois and the gentle pulse of the piano accompaniment Tingting provides throughout first in the work Adoration, for which the disc is titled, and then in the stirring, grounded sound of Price’s Fantasy in Purple.

 

We then have Rebecca Clarke’s Shorter Pieces for viola and piano; an interesting, contrasting set of works. What particularly struck me was the work Chinese Puzzle, a study etude in which the viola and piano are in dialogue with biting timbral contrasts. Dubois and Tingting present a most playful rendition as the pointillistic pizzicato of the viola dances with the adamant, yet child-like passages of the piano accompaniment.

 

Next up are Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s spellbinding Songs of Sun and Shade in which the viola floats with a most exquisite cantabile over the accompaniment. This set of works has a controlled, regal quality to it. Dubois and Tingting elegantly showcase Coleridge-Taylor’s incredible gift of melodic writing throughout this colorful, pastoral musical journey.

 

Another poignant detail about the craft of this album is the pacing of the selections. After the rich sounds of Coleridge Taylor, it’s quite refreshing to hear the exciting, spirited, sprightly rhythms of Piazzolla’s classic Libertango and the wanderingly beautiful Cafe 1930. In Cafe 1930, time itself seems to stand still as Tingting’s delicate touch sets the tone before Dubois enters with a tone most sensitive. What an emotional rollercoaster these works are!

 

Rounding out the works on the album are Villa-Lobos’ Aria Cantilena from Bachianas Brasileiras No.5, Três Peças Nordestinas by Guerra-Peixe, and 6 Lieder, op. 7 by Fanny Mendelssohn. I find Dubois’ tone this latter third of the album so rich that one might mistake it for that of a cello!
 

This disc is a beautiful collaboration and fitting celebration of the music of the Americas. Dubois and Tingting have done a beautiful job in helping to further establish these wonderful works deep within the viola repertoire.

— Brian Raphael Nabors, 2021

“This is a fine achievement. Amaro’s passion and virtuosity shine through in this lovely collection of music from under-represented composers.”

— Jacob Adams, 2021

 cannot always tell day-to-day what new musical treasures will await my ears, but there are ever good things. Today there is a fine and adventurous album by violist Amaro Dubois with pianist Tingting Yao, entitled Adoration: Music of the Americas (Spice Classics SR-101-56). 

 

The most apparent thing you notice is the very adventurous program of works, things that if you have not heard you are glad to or even if you have, it is a nice gathering of unexpected juxtapositions and very solid viola fare. It happens that I became quite enamored with the viola in my early listening years thanks to Walter Trampler. I still feel the same way so always glad to hear an excellent player unknown to me. Like you might come to expect from a violist of stature there is a woody, burnished deepness to Amaro's tone, and given the expressive qualities of much of the music there is an emotive sweetness that is not overblown but just right, a trim tautness coupled with a projective richness that makes the music sing out nicely. 

Dubois and Yao give poetically focused attention to works that are neglected treasures, many of them, and/or illuminating to our understanding of composers, regions. periods.

We get to hear a couple of gems by the now emergent Afro-American woman composer Florence Price, plus worthy but neglected works by Rebecca Clarke, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Astor Piazzolla, Cesar Guerra-Piexe and Fanny Mendelssohn. And then to remind us that there is a treasure trove of possible rearrangements of other works and composers  more well known, we hear a ravishing viola-piano version of Villa-Lobos's "Bachianas Brasileiras No. 6."

In the end it is a pleasure to hear the brilliant musicianship of Dubois and Yao, as much as it is heartening to hear some wonderful music we are fortunate to experience today. Bravo!           

                                                                   

                                                                                                               

The musicians are well-equipped for the project. Dubois's powerful, vibrato-rich viola sound has developed over many years and in many contexts. He's played with numerous orchestras and chamber groups, possesses broad teaching experience, and preceded Adoration with an album of preludes from Bach's cello suites. Yao has established herself as a collaborator and chamber musician with singers and instrumentalists all over the world and once worked at Lang Lang Music World, the popular pianist's first piano school in Shenzhen, China. Dubois and Tingting both excel at adapting their playing to the material at hand and can be as passionate and delicate as the music demands. While the performances on Adoration are polished, they breathe with humanity, that quality bolstered by the viola's capacity for raw, vocal-like expressiveness.

 

— Textura Magazine

 — Ken Meltzer (Fanfare Magazine)

In his introductory comments to Adoration: Music of the Americas, violist Amaro Dubois explains the mission of his recording: “to encourage musicianship through the beautiful and awe-inspiring music of these composers, and to increase diversity in classical music by programming new and often overlooked compositions for the viola repertoire…I have focused on music of the Americas and music significantly tied to these lands, as the level of diversity in cultures and values is and has always been rich and ripe for exploration and finding connections.” The repertoire featured in Adoration includes works originally composed for viola and piano, and arrangements of compositions for that combination of instruments. Florence Price, Rebecca Clarke, and Fanny Mendelssohn all faced hurdles as female composers. Price, an African American, encountered additional challenges. The English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a descendent of African American slaves, took great interest in US music and culture. Astor Piazzolla (Argentina), Heitor Villa-Lobos and César Guerra-Peixe (Brazil) represent a trio of South American composers. The vast majority of the repertoire on this disc is in the spirit of “songs without words”, brief pieces that explore the viola’s lyrical, singing voice. By contrast, Piazzolla’s Libertango and Café 1930, and Guerra-Peixe’s Suíte Nordestina draw upon more earthy folk and popular sources. Dubois and pianist Tinting Yao play all of the works with the utmost commitment, and sensitivity to the composers’ diverse voices. All of the pieces are performed with style and without a trace of routine. The Piazzolla works, in particular, have an irrepressible swagger. This is a worthy recital both in concept and execution. The joy these artists find in the music and their interpretations is palpable, and it is all reproduced in lovely sound.

 

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