Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges: String Quartets;
AFKA SK-557 (2003)
Dominique-René de Lerma writes:
Exploring Music, the only such program known to me which is available internationally, on 31 March has begun a second series of two weeks dedicated to Black music. The host, Bill McLaughlin, has again fallen back on Eileen Southern's Music of Black Americans for stimulus. Eileen's book was certainly a welcome and influential landmark when it was first published by W. W. Norton on the urging of Barry Brook in 1971. In the third edition (1997) she updated her information and corrected past errors of which she had been painfully aware. Even so, one should consult Arthur R. LaBrew's 111-page website...if seeking to be overpowered by his musicological virtuosity and to observe a hint of lacunae in the works of others.
The initial program in the series surveyed a wide area of unrelated examples, from Ghana to the Sea Islands, from Marian Anderson to Saint-Georges. In the latter case we heard the F-minor string quartet (opus 14, no. 3) in a performance by the Apollon Quartet, displaying a French version of Sturm und Drang (Avenira AV 276011, issued in 2005). An even better case and performance would be the second quartet n G minor from the 1777 set, performed by the Coleridge Quartet on AFKA Records SK-557 in 2003.
Earlier than Saint-Georges was Vicente Lusitano in the 16th century, whose startlingly chromatic Heu me Domine has been recorded and is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDb0uvOrsX0. Watch: someone will dub him "the Black Gesualdo!"
Waiting for us in this first week are Florence Price, Harry Burleigh, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Paul Robeson, Eartha Kitt, Leadbelly, Natalie Hinderas, and Joplin -- a bewilderingly diverse cast, many of whom will be introduced for the first time to a large audience of Bill's loyal followers -- and, let us hope, a few new activists.
Dominique-René de Lerma