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Fort Smith Symphony, John Jeter – Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 (2019) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Fort Smith Symphony, John Jeter - Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 (2019) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz] Download

Fort Smith Symphony, John Jeter – Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 (2019)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:08:52 minutes | 1,13 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Naxos

Lists of American music “firsts” often include Florence B. Price’s 1933 Symphony No. 1 in E minor, which became the first symphony by an African American woman performed by a major American orchestra. Even that work is not so common these days. With echoes of Dvorák and William Grant Still, the work features a jovial “Juba Dance” in place of a scherzo. More interesting is the first movement, where African American influences — syncopations, pentatonic scales — seem to be struggling over the course of the substantial first movement to break out from the rather weighty material. But the highlight of this release from the Fort Smith Symphony of Arkansas and its conductor, John Jeter, is Price’s Symphony No. 4 in D minor, composed in 1945 and here receiving its recorded world premiere. Despite the similar four-movement layout, with a juba dance in the same spot, it’s a more complex work than its predecessor in every way, and its rediscovery is a major event. Sample the first movement with its subtle treatment of the spiritual “Wade in the Water.” The slow movement makes reference to that of Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 (“From the New World”) and is all the more impressive for making an entirely distinct impression despite the similarities. The Fort Smith Symphony, from Price’s home state (she and her husband fled after a horrifying lynching episode), delivers idiomatic performances, and the Symphony No. 4 finale is especially exciting. Highly recommended.

Florence Price was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and studied at the New England Conservatory, but it was in Chicago that her composing career accelerated. The concert in 1933 at which her Symphony No. 2 in E minor was premiered was the first time a major American orchestra had performed a piece written by an African American woman. Influenced by Dvorak and Coleridge-Taylor, she drew on the wellspring of Negro spirituals and vernacular dances, full of lyricism and syncopation. The Symphony No. 4 in D minordemonstrates her tight ensemble writing, her distinct sense of orchestral color, her Ellingtonian ‘jungle style’ language and her penchant for the ‘juba’ dance.

Founded in 1923, the Fort Smith Symphony is the oldest orchestra in the state of Arkansas. The orchestra is a per-service professional ensemble drawn from musicians throughout the region.

Tracklist:

1-01. Fort Smith Symphony – Symphony No. 1 in E Minor: I. Allegro ma non troppo (16:36)
1-02. Fort Smith Symphony – Symphony No. 1 in E Minor: II. Largo, maestoso (12:17)
1-03. Fort Smith Symphony – Symphony No. 1 in E Minor: III. Juba Dance (03:39)
1-04. Fort Smith Symphony – Symphony No. 1 in E Minor: IV. Finale (04:49)
1-05. Fort Smith Symphony – Symphony No. 4 in D Minor: I. Tempo moderato (15:15)
1-06. Fort Smith Symphony – Symphony No. 4 in D Minor: II. Andante cantabile (05:41)
1-07. Fort Smith Symphony – Symphony No. 4 in D Minor: III. Juba Dance (05:16)
1-08. Fort Smith Symphony – Symphony No. 4 in D Minor: IV. Scherzo (05:19)

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