Monday, August 30, 2010

David O'Rourke's Blog: William Grant Still's 'slow movement of his 2nd Symphony is breathtaking'

[Africa: Piano Music of William Grant Still; Denver Oldham, piano; Koch 3 7084 2H1 (1991)]

String Writing
String Writing in Jazz
“Bill Finegan's string charts on Ellington's music for a Sonny Stitt album also contain some great overlooked writing. William Grant Still straddled both sides of the classical/jazz fence - his slow movement of his 2nd Symphony is breathtaking.”

William Grant Still's Symphony No. 1 (Afro-American Symphony) was premiered in 1931. Michael Fleming has written the liner notes for Still's Symphony No. 2 in G Minor (Song of a New Race) (29:22). It was recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Neeme Jarvi, Conductor, on Chandos 9226 (1993). Fleming recounts: “For several years after his successful debut as a symphonist, Still continued to be regarded as primarily an arranger.” The composer provided subtitles for the four movements of the symphony: Yearnings, Sorrow, Humor and Aspiration. [William Grant Still (1895-1978) and Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974) are profiled at, which features a complete Works List for William Grant Still, compiled by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma.]

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