The Alaska-born violist Eliesha Nelson, who plays in the Cleveland Orchestra, has a new CD entitled Russian Viola Sonatas, with Glen Inanga at the piano. I rubbed my eyes somewhat when I studied the tracklist and discovered not only that the Shostakovich sonata was not there but that the composers included — Varvara Gaigerova, Alexander Winkler, and Paul Juon — were entirely new to me. The Gaigerova Suite Op. 8, the beginning of which you can hear in the video preview above, is particularly striking — a Scriabinesque score in four brief, pungent movements. Relatively little is known of the composer, who had a short life, dying in 1944 at the age of forty. (I can find no information about how she died.) She studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Neuhaus, Catoire, and Miaskovsky, and later played piano at the Bolshoi Theater. She had a strong interest in the ethnic musical traditions of the Soviet Union and wrote a symphony on Kalmyk themes. From this posting on Bob Shingleton's Overgrown Path I suspect that the conductor John McLaughlin Williams, an avid sleuth of unsung composers, had something to do with bringing Gaigerova's music further to light. The CD is beautifully played throughout; Nelson's tone is strikingly rich and warm.
Footnote: Thanks to John Luther Adams I am able to say that I have actually been to Nelson's hometown of North Pole, Alaska (see last photo in this post).