courtesy of Universal Music Group
This coming Friday Decca will release the debut album of violinist Randall Goosby, born in Memphis, Tennessee, to an African-American father and a Korean mother. The title of the album is Roots, and the overall program is a celebration of the works of Black classical composers. The two exceptions to that legacy involve composers that cultivated their own awareness of such musicians: Antonín Dvořák in the late nineteenth century, and George Gershwin in the first half of the twentieth. As usually, Amazon.com has already created a Web page for processing pre-orders.
For most of the album, Goosby is accompanied at the piano by Zhu Wang. However, the album begins with the world premiere recording of “Shelter Island,” a duo for violin and bass composed by Xavier Dubois Foley, who is the bassist for this performance. This is then followed by a solo violin composition by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, a three-movement suite entitled Blue/s Forms. Those that follow this site regularly will probably realize that the timing of that last sentence could not be more apposite. Augustin Hadelich’s visit to the San Francisco Symphony(SFS) in Davies Symphony Hall was capped by the selection of Perkinson’s “Louisiana Blues Strut: A Cakewalk” as an encore selection, a piece he had previously streamed for his Atterbury House Sessions recital a little over a month ago. Furthermore, during that earlier recital, “Louisiana Blues Strut” was preceded by a performance of Blue/s Forms!
Readers probably also know that I have been doing my best to track both performances and recordings of music by Florence Price. Last week’s SFS program included a string orchestra performance of the second (Andante moderato) movement from her string quartet in G major, based on a manuscript that had not been discovered until 2009. Roots includes three world premiere tracks of further fruits of that discovery. These are all relatively short pieces, the first entitled “Adoration” and the remaining two given the title “Fantasie” in the keys of G minor and F-sharp minor, respectively.
The other works by Black composers represented on this album are a three-movement suite by William Grant Still and Maud Powell’s arrangement of Samuel Taylor-Coleridge’s setting of the “Deep River” spiritual. The Gershwin selections are four of the songs from Porgy and Bess, transcribed for violin and piano by Jascha Heifetz. Less familiar to most listeners will probably be the Dvořák sonatina in G major, which accounts for the final four tracks on the album.
Goosby is consistently satisfying in his interpretations of this broad and diverse scope of selections. As we emerge from pandemic conditions, many of us have thoughts of performing artists once again coming to San Francisco as part of recital tours. Given the experiences that this city’s audiences have with Goosby’s repertoire, I suspect that he would be a most welcome visitor.