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Catalyst Quartet

Uncovered Vol. 3 - C-TP, GW, WGS

Azica Records
Release Date: February 3, 2023

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We are the Catalyst Quartet
1 Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson - String Quartet No. 1 “Calvary” / 1.Allegro  
2 Adagio  
3 Allegro vivace  
4 William Grant Still - Lyric Quartet / The Sentimental One  
5 The Quiet One  
6 The Jovial One  
7 George Walker - String Quartet No. 1 Lyric / Allegro  
8 Molto adagio  
9 Allegro con fuoco  
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The lives of William Grant Still, George Walker, and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, which unfolded between 1895 and 2018, encompassed the regime of racial terror that characterized the US following Reconstruction; the various Black artistic, political, and social projects that transformed the US in the 20th century; and the deep contradictions that continue to plague the US today. Indeed, as Perkinson said of his own position as a Black composer in the 1970s in relation to his forebears, we can say that “the situation has changed today; it has not changed very much, but it has changed.” The compositions featured here were written roughly between 1940 and 1956, and they represent Walker and Perkinson in their youths and Still in his prime. Each is a testament to these composers’ important place in the history of concert music in the US, their negotiations of competing aesthetic traditions of the 20th century, and their creative and deliberate engagement with what musicologist Eileen Southern referred to as “Black musical materials” in their compositional styles.

George Walker’s String Quartet No. 1 “Lyric” is in a way the most youthful music here, being the artist’s 'rst major composition. Walker 'nished the quartet in 1946 while he was a student at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France, just one year after he had 'nished his Artist Diploma at the Curtis Institute, where he had studied composition with Samuel Barber’s teacher Rosario Scalero. The abrupt and dissonant opening gesture of the 'rst movement quickly gives way to a harmonic lushness that portends the middle movement, which remains one of his best remembered works and is often performed alone as the Lyric for Strings.

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