A Musical Portrait of the American Southwest – Stephen Nordstrom (viola), Dominic Dousa (piano) Blue Griffin CD GR 429 TT: 73:37 [dist. by Albany] ****:

A fine recording with premier performances and the composer at the piano

The music on this disc takes its inspiration from the land referred to as the American Southwest, a region extending from the Great Plains of western Texas northwestwards to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and southwards to the desert lands of New Mexico and Arizona. The works on this program evoke the spirit of this land with a variety of lovely pieces for viola and piano. The composer, Dominic Dousa performs at the piano.

The disc contains two works, Reflections on a Desert Winter and Mountain Song. Within the titles work are movements that reflect the unique Western ambiance. The music nicely evokes the subject matter, without having to use some of the more cliche’d and overused ‘Americanism’s’  originally made popular by Copland and others. (of course when Copland wrote them, they weren’t overheard or overused.) The music is lyrical, very listenable, and while I am biased toward the Southwestern theme living as I do in Arizona, anyone would enjoy the music on offer.

The recording is generally a good one. I might have preferred closer microphones rendering more instrumental detail, but this is a preference rather a complaint. Overall, this is a fine recording.

Dr. Dousa is a talented composer. He joined the faculty of the University of Texas at El Paso in 2004.  He is an Associate Professor and teaches music theory and composition. He holds degrees from Ball State University (D.A., Music Theory & Composition, 2003), Central Michigan University (M.M., Music Composition, 2000), Iowa State University (M.S., Statistics, 1998), and Harvard University (A.B. summa cum laude, Music, 1995).

His piano work here is first rate, along with Stephen Nordstrom’s viola.

The disc contents are as follows:

Reflections on a Desert Winter
I. On the Spirit Path
II. Where the Cold Desert Wind Blows
III. Desert Glow
IV. The Rugged Pioneer Trail
V. Toward the Boundless Expanse

Mountain Song

Sonata for Viola and Piano, “From a Land Wild and Free”
I. Onward to the Llano Estacado!
II. A Voice Calls in the Wilderness
III. The Wild Wind Blows Where It Wills

This is a fine disc, with lovely music.


—Mel Martin