Friday, February 20, 2015

Fanfare Magazine: George Walker is one of the most accomplished, fiercely individual composers this country has ever produced.

George Walker: Great American Concert Music
Albany Records Troy 1370

George Walker (b. 1922) 
has a website at

and is featured at

On December 9, 2014 AfriClassical posted:

On Feb 3, 2015, Leslie Parsons  of Albany Records wrote to George Walker:

"Your disc was reviewed in the latest issue of Fanfare magazine."

AfriClassical presents  excerpts from the review by Classical Music critic Jim Svejda, a program host for Classical KUSC, FM 91.5, in Los Angeles:

Walker Piano Sonata No. 3; Music for 3; Songs; Bleu for Unaccompanied Violin; Piano Sonata No. 5.  George Walker, Leon Bates, Robert Pollock, pianos; Gregory Walker, violin; Alison Buchanan, soprano.  ALBANY 1370 (71:31).

For decades, George Walker's "Lyric for Strings" has been one of the most performed works of any American composer.  Yet trying to assess the range of his achievement from this ineffably moving work would be like trying to understand Elgar solely on the basis of the first of the "Pomp and Circumstance" marches.  When Walker received the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1996 for "Lilacs" - a Whitman setting commissioned by the Boston Symphony - it merely confirmed what many had suspected for years, namely that George Walker is one of the most accomplished, fiercely individual composers this country has ever produced.

This latest installment of Albany's admirable on-going series features a sequence of 17 of the composer's songs, brief works for solo violin and piano trio, together with two of his piano sonatas written between 1976 and 2003.

Appropriately, the songs begin with that gravely beautiful setting of the 15th century "The Bereaved Maid" with which Walker introduced himself to Nadia Boulanger in 1957.  Mademoiselle pronounced it "a masterpiece" and accepted the 35-year-old American as a pupil on the spot.  (The year before he moved to Paris, Walker had become the first black American to receive a doctoral degree from Eastman.)  Both the range and quality of material make a convincing case for the argument that Walker ranks with Ned Rorem and Samuel Barber. 

                                                                                                                  While brief, the powerfully concentrated Piano Sonata No. 5, the intense and challenging Music for 3 and sensuous Bleu for Unaccompanied Violin - brilliantly dispatched by the composer's gifted son Gregory - round out yet another album which continues to make the larger case that George Walker is one of the great composers of our time.  Jim Svejda                                                                                                            

No comments: