Thursday, September 3, 2009

William Grant Still's Symphonies Nos. 4, 'Autochthonous' & 5, 'Western Hemisphere' on Naxos in October

[William Grant Still: Symphonies Nos. 4, 'Autochthonous' & 5, 'Western Hemisphere'; 'Poem'; Fort Smith Symphony; John Jeter, conductor; Naxos 8.559603 (2009)]

The new CD of William Grant Still's 4th and 5th Symphonies, and his “Poem” for orchestra, Naxos 8.559603 (2009) will soon be available internationally. The Fort Smith Symphony of Fort Smith, Arkansas won critical acclaim in 2005 when it released a Naxos American Classics CD of William Grant Still's Symphony No. 1 (Afro-American), accompanied by world premieres of In Memoriam: The Colored Soldiers Who Died for Democracy (7:22) and Africa (Symphonic Poem) 27:51, on Naxos 8.559174.
AfriClassical broke the news of the latest CD on June 22, 2009. We later wrote on August 1, 2009: “William Grant Still's Symphony No. 4 '...was intended to be descriptive of the American spirit...'” The post was based on an excerpt from the book “William Grant Still and the Fusion of Cultures in American Music”; Second Edition; Judith Anne Still, Managing Editor; The Master-Player Library (1995). On the next page, Paul Harold Slattery writes:“The addition of program notes. The program notes that were devised by Mr. And Mrs. Still read as follows: 'The Autochthonous was written in Los Angeles, in the house where we lived for twenty years, and where our children were born: 3670 Cimarron Street. The Symphony was copyrighted October 20, 1947.

'This Symphony, dedicated to the composer's old friend and teacher at Oberlin, Maurice Kessler is subtitled “Autochthonous” to explain that the music has its roots in our own soil, and portrays – in a sense – the spirit of the American people. The First Movement exemplifies the feeling of optimism and energy: The American ability to “get things done.” The Second Movement is more pensive, then, in the “second subject,” animated in a folky way. The Third Movement is humorous and unmistakably typical of our country and its rhythms. The final movement depicts the warmth and the spiritual side of the American people – their love of mankind. It may also be said that the music speaks of the fusion of musical cultures in North America.'”

Yesterday we heard from John Jeter, Conductor of the Fort Smith Symphony: “William - FYI Our latest CD is to be released nationally/internationally in October. Log on to, click 'More Upcoming Releases', on the left middle of the home page. The October releases are listed in alphabetical order by composer. Find 'Still', it is a small image but very exciting. Regards - John Jeter - Fort Smith Symphony”

Maestro Jeter tells us his ensemble's recording of William Grant Still's Afro-American Symphony, in the Naxos American Classics series, has been very successful in terms of both sales and classical music reviews. He and the Fort Smith Symphony now present two more of the composer's symphonies on the world's best-selling classical music label. [William Grant Still (1895 -1978) is profiled at, where a complete Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is also found]

No comments: