Music News 2/2/22



GEORGE WALKER: FIVE PIANO SONATAS (1953 – 2003) (Bridge, $16.99) – George Walker (1922 – 2018) –George Walker was the first Black composer awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music.  But with his passing just a couple of years ago, as Seth Colter Walls wrote in the New York Times, “there was also a dispiriting acknowledgment of a missed opportunity, given that so few elite classical institutions had seriously engaged with Walker’s work while he was alive.”  Pianist Steven Beck takes on the challenges of all five of  Mr. Walker’s piano sonatas, written between 1953 and 2003. 



On Tuesday, February 15, at Howard University, the National Symphony Orchestra will play three George Walker pieces—two of his Sinfonia works (Nos. 1 & 4) and his Violin Sonata No. 1, with Mr. Walker’s son, Gregory, joining the NSO. 


BACH: CANTATAS Nos. 35 & 169 (Hyperion, $19.98) – Countertenor Iestyn Davies is back with a second album of Bach Cantatas accompanied by the ensemble Arcangelo, directed by Jonathan Cohen. As well as Bach’s Gott Soll Allein Mein Herze Haben, BWV 169 and Geist Und Seele Wird Verwirret, BWV 35, there are works by Schutz and Buxtehude. 



BRAHMS: LATE PIANO WORKS (Harmonia Mundi, $19.98) - Paul Lewis plays the Opp 116 – 119, including Ballades, a Waltz, among the many Capriccios and Intermezzi

NOTE: The New York Times featured Mr. Lewis’s insights into this recording


Cecilia Bartoli, UNRELEASED (Decca, $16.98) – Ms. Bartoli’s pandemic project was to go through her archives “in search of hidden gems.” She found selections that were especially meaningful for her. She is accompanied by the Basel Chamber Orchestra in arias from Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, and Josef Myslivecek. 





Joseph Horowitz’s DVOŘÁK’S PROPHECY: A New Narrative for American Classical Music is a six-DVD set that is a tie-in to his recent book, Dvořák’s Prophecy: And the Vexed Fate of Black Classical Music (Norton, $30).  

Mr. Horowitz is a music historian, and also a music programmer, and the Executive Director of DC’s PostClassical Ensemble, whose concerts have featured many of the themes explored on the DVDs, which includes music from those concerts. 


The Souls of Black Folk and the Vexed Fate of Black Classical Music (Film 3) (Naxos DVD, $13.99) is the volume most directly taking up the book’s themes, and it delves into the work of Harry Burleigh, William Levi Dawson, Florence Price and William Grant Still, along with commentary by scholars, as well as conductor Michael Morgan and famed vocalist George Shirley. 


The other volumes of the DVD series (available to special order) are  

Dvořák’s New World Symphony (Film 1)  

Charles Ives’ America (Film 2) 

Aaron Copland: American Populist (Film 4)  

Beyond Psycho: The Musical Genius of Bernard Hermann (Film 5)  

Lou Harrison and Cultural Fusion (Film 6) (Naxos DVD, each, $13.99) 



The PostClassical Ensemble will present a concert entitled The Black Virtuoso Tradition, on Saturday, February 26, at the ARC (as well as live stream) with music by Scott Joplin, Art Tatum, Florence Price, Fats Waller, James P. Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton, Harry Burleigh, Margaret Bonds, as well as Dvořák and Gershwin. 






Immanuel Wilkins, THE 7TH HAND (Blue Note, $13.98) – The alto saxophonist presents a seven-movement suite, with his quartet (Micah Thomas, piano; Daryl Johns, bass; Kweku Sumbry, drums), plus Elena Pinderhughes (flute) on two cuts. 


Mitski, LAUREL HELL (Deep Oceans, $15.98) – The singer and songwriter Mitski (Miyawaki) released critically acclaimed albums in 2016 (Puberty 2) and 2018 (Be the Cowboy). She returns with Laurel Hell. 




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