Sunday, November 24, 2019 Toledo Symphony in Florence Price's "Mississippi Suite"

Florence B. Price (1887-1953)

Wayne F. Anthony

November 22, 2019

Conductor Feddeck, cellist Schwarz deliver ‘Masterworks’

Toledo Symphony’s Masterworks Concert proved an excellent evening of riparian reflection on Friday as guest conductor James Feddeck was joined by cellist Julian Schwarz. Two canons of the literature were programmed, joined by a third, rarely heard work, as equally charming in scope.

Feddeck was, quite simply, brilliant, eliciting one of the most musically exciting evenings from the Toledo Symphony this season. His sensitivity is astounding; his musical understanding sublime; the synergy between he and Schwarz was musical perfection.

Smetana’s perennial favorite, “The Moldau,” opened. One of six tone poems he wrote in tribute to his Czech homeland, the work holds infinite audience appeal, tracing the river’s route from hill springs through the countryside, and eventually on to the sea.  


Florence Price was the first African American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer in her own right. Little known, she recently plunged into the limelight when a number of her scores, thought lost, were uncovered in an abandoned home in Illinois.

Her “Mississippi Suite” is the American counterpart to the Smetana. Quotations of familiar spirituals and folk melodies waft through the sonic landscape in an almost perfume-like parade of nostalgic remembrances.

Again, Feddeck imbued the work with verve and direction, showcasing the composer’s skill both as an orchestrator and a master of the compositional craft. His rendering gave the listener every reason to seek a second or third hearing of this rediscovered symphonic landmark. 

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