Monday, May 29, 2017

Coleridge Taylor, Samuel, Sowande, Fela, Still Grant, William. African Heritage Symphonic Series.

From my collection
Bought in February 2011.
First listen: 5-2-2011.
Second listen: 13-5-2015.
Third listen: 29-5-2017.
Label: Cedille Records.
Recording dates: May 2000.
Recording venue: Lund Auditorium at Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois.
Recording engineer: Bill Maylone.
Running time: 51:26.
Relevance to me: Essential.

Works performed:

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)
Danse Negre, from African Suite. (1898)
Petite Suite de Concert. (1910)

Fela Sowande. (1905-1987)

African Suite (Selections) (1930)

William Grant Still. (1895-1978)

Symphony No. 1 "Afro-American" (1930)

Performed by:

Chicago Sinfonietta, Paul Freeman.

I knew already that Coleridge Taylor was a fine composer and orchestrator, so this piece proves yet again what a master he was, and ups this status with both pieces on this disc. The Petite Suite is a masterwork, no doubt about that at all. It has four movements. Its an overall delight to listen to this work, exemplified by the first movement , "La Caprice de Nannette" which is extremely well put together, but then, you know, all four pieces fill the shoes of that description. "Un Sonnet d'Amour" the third movement, is a delicate well structured filigree work, absolutely outstanding in every way. "La tarantelle Fretillante"  is an exuberant handful of musical joy, it has balletic elements, a march theme, even jubilant and rejoicing chattering goes on in the narrative. 

And if you think the surprises are over, Fela Sowande walks in, who knows him?, and delivers an equally genial piece as Taylor. Its an absolute fantastic work in three beautiful movements, with a warm and embracing quality to it. The second movement called "Nostalgia" is a knockout piece, it captures human life in just over 4 minutes. I got a wow feeling and goosebumps listening to it. Akila, the third movement is a exercise in perfect scoring for strings, really amazing!
And then Grant-Still comes in with his multifaceted first Symphony. All the musical styles from the time of composition (1930) can be found in this amazing work. And I mean literally all, worked in the score so cleverly, that I listened with amazement at almost every note. There are so many images presenting themselves, that you hardly know what to grasp first and what last, an almost impossible task. The performances are topnotch, and the recording close to State of the Art.
Highly recommendable.




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