Sony Classical Reissues Black Composer Series: The Complete Album Collection (10-CD Box Set) Featuring Conductor Paul Freeman

In the 1970s, CBS Masterworks made a groundbreaking series of recordings featuring the music of black composers. The nine LPs released all featured the pioneering conductor Paul Freeman. Sony Classical is proud to reissue the complete Black Composer Series in a single original album collection with each CD remastered from the original analogue tapes using 24 bit/192 kHz technology.

The composers featured span several centuries and come from many different backgrounds. The earliest is the unique Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745–1799), a composer, violinist and swordsman born in Guadeloupe who spent most of his life in France. A whole album of his music includes the Symphony op. 11/1, the String Quartet op. 1/1 and the Symphonie Concertante op. 13. Another complete album is dedicated to the Brazilian composer José Maurício Nunes Garcia (1767–1830) and his extraordinary Requiem Mass for Queen Maria I. José Silvestre White (1835–1918), a Cuban virtuoso violinist-composer in the mould of Wieniawski, taught pupils including George Enescu, and his Violin Concerto is interpreted here by Aaron Rosand.

The English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912) enjoyed considerable success in his lifetime, most of all through his cantata Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, an aria from which is included here, as is his orchestral Danse nègre. Coleridge-Taylor visited the USA several times, and was an inspiration for the young William Grant Still (1895–1978). Still’s Afro-American Symphony, the first by a black composer to be performed by a major orchestra, draws strongly on the musical language of the blues. His ballet score Sahdji and two arias from his opera Highway 1, U.S.A. are also included. Among the many other 20th-century composers featured are the Nigerian Fela Sowande (1905–1987), the Panamanian Roque Cordero (1917–2008), and the American Ulysses Simpson Kay (1917–1995).

George Walker (1922-2018) has been called “one of the greatest composers of our time” by Fanfare, and three works by this Pulitzer winner are included: the Trombone and Piano Concertos as well as his Lyric for Strings. David Baker (1931–2016), the renowned jazz cellist and composer, was a pupil of Janos Starker, who plays his Cello Sonata. Hale Smith (1925–2009), another composer deeply involved with the world of jazz, is represented by hisRitual and Incantations. Other composers featured in this collection include Olly W. Wilson, T. J. Anderson, Talib-Rasul Hakim and Adolphus Hailstork. 

A bonus tenth album features Smith’s Symphonic Spirituals, arrangements of 12 spirituals for voice and orchestra, first released by Paul Freeman and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1979. Besides those already mentioned, the many superb performers in this collection include the London Symphony Orchestra on several albums, the Baltimore and Detroit Symphony Orchestras, and the Juilliard String Quartet. But it is the composers, many still little known today, who are the true stars of this milestone collection. 

DISC 1: M 32781
SAINT-GEORGES: Symphony No. 1 in G Major, Op. 11, No. 1
SAINT-GEORGES: String Quartet No. 1 in C Major, Op. 1, No. 1 (Juilliard String Quartet)
SAINT-GEORGES: Symphonie Concertante in G Major for Two Violins and Orchestra, Op. 13 (Miriam Fried, Jaime Laredo, violins)
SAINT-GEORGES: Scena from Ernestine (Faye Robinson, soprano) 

DISC 2: M 32782
STILL: Afro-American Symphony
STILL: Two Arias from Highway 1, U.S.A.: What does he know of dreams ? (William Brown, tenor)
STILL: Two Arias from Highway 1, U.S.A.: You’re wonderful, Mary (William Brown, tenor)
COLERIDGE-TAYLOR Onaway! Awake, Beloved from Hiawatha’s Wedding Fest (William Brown, tenor)

COLERIDGE-TAYLOR: Danse Nègre 

DISC 3: M 32783
KAY: Markings
WALKER: Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra (Dennis Wick, trombone) 

DISC 4: M 32784
CORDERO: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (Sanford Allen, violin)
CORDERO Eight Miniatures for Small Orchestra 

DISC 5: M 33431
NUNES GARCIA Requiem Mass (Doralene Davis, soprano; Betty Allen, mezzo-soprano; William Brown, tenor; Matti Tuloisela, bass-baritone)  

DISC 6: M 33432
WHITE Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (Aaron Rosand, violin)
BAKER, David Sonata for Cello and Piano (Janos Starker, cello; Alain Planès, piano) 

DISC 7: M 33433
STILL: Sahdji (Ballet for Orchestra & Chorus)
SOWANDE: Music from African Suite for String Orchestra
WALKER: Lyric for Strings 

DISC 8: M 33434
WILSON: Akwan for Piano, Electronic Piano, Amplified Strings, and Orchestra (Richard Bunger, piano & electric piano)
ANDERSON: Squares (An Essay for Orchestra)
HAKIM: Visions of Ishwara 

DISC 9: M 34556
WALKER: Piano Concerto (Natalie Hinderas, piano)
HAILSTORK: Celebration
SMITH: Ritual and Incantations 

DISC 10: JC 36267
LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING (Barbara Jordan, narrator; William Brown, tenor)
JESUS LAY YOUR HEAD IN (Barbara Jordan, narrator; William Brown, tenor)
HONOR, HONOR (Barbara Jordan, narrator; William Brown, tenor)
HE NEVER SAID A MUMBALLI (Barbara Jordan, narrator; William Brown, tenor)
A CHANGE HAS GOT TO COME (Barbara Jordan, narrator; William Brown, tenor)
SWING LOW SWEET CHARIOT (Barbara Jordan, narrator; William Brown, tenor)
GOSPEL TRAIN (Barbara Jordan, narrator; William Brown, tenor)
LET US BREAK BREAD TOGET (Barbara Jordan, narrator; William Brown, tenor)
WITNESS (Barbara Jordan, narrator; William Brown, tenor)
THE REVIVAL (Barbara Jordan, narrator; William Brown, tenor)
THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE (Barbara Jordan, narrator; William Brown, tenor)
DEEP RIVER (Barbara Jordan, narrator; William Brown, tenor)

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