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Yannick Nezet-Seguin

Price - Sym No. 4, Dawson - Negro Folk Sym w/Phila

Deutsche Grammophon
Release Date: September 15, 2023

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Yannick Nezet-Seguin on Programming Philadelphia Orchestra Concerts
Tchaikovsky: Fantasy-Overture 'Romeo and Juliet' (Yannick Nezet-Seguin)
1 Price: Symphony No. 4 in D Minor: I. Tempo moderato 15:54  
2 II. Andante cantabile 07:18  
3 III. Juba. Allegro 05:24  
4 IV. Scherzo. Allegro 05:16  
5 Dawson: Negro Folk Symphony: I. The Bond of Africa (Live) 12:57  
6 II. Hope in the Night 13:39  
7 III. O, Le' Me Shine, Shine Like a Morning Star!  
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The Philadelphia Orchestra and its Music and Artistic Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin continue their pioneering project to revive neglected music by Black American composers. Their latest recording, set for digital release by Deutsche Grammophon out today, captures Florence Price’s Symphony No. 4 and William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony. Listeners have the chance to sample movements from both works ahead of the album’s full release, with the “Juba” from Price’s Fourth Symphony and “O, Le’ Me Shine, Shine Like a Morning Star!” from the Negro Folk Symphony  also out now.

Born in Alabama in 1899, William Levi Dawson studied at the renowned Tuskegee Institute (he later founded its School of Music, serving as its director for 25 years), Kansas City’s Horner Institute and Chicago’s American Conservatory. His Negro Folk Symphony was premiered in 1934 by The Philadelphia Orchestra and Leopold Stokowski. Despite its overwhelmingly enthusiastic reception, it then suffered the fate of other works by Black composers, enduring decades of almost total neglect.

As part of his desire both to honour The Philadelphia Orchestra’s rich tradition of championing contemporary composers and shine new light on unjustly forgotten masterpieces, Nézet-Séguin programmed what he calls the “mind-blowingly well orchestrated” Negro Folk Symphony for only the third time in the orchestra’s history earlier this year, using a new edition of Dawson’s score. The performance at Verizon Hall, hailed by The Philadelphia Inquirer as “a knockout” and “momentous”, was recorded live by Deutsche Grammophon.

A lament for the millions of Africans shipped across the Atlantic into slavery, the symphony is built on original spirituals and themes written in the style of spirituals, each of its three movements boasting a programmatic title: “The Bond of Africa”, “Hope in the Night” and “O, Le’ Me Shine, Shine Like a Morning Star!”. Dawson reworked his score in 1952 (this recording is based on the revised version) to include some of the complex rhythms he had heard during a recent visit to West Africa, reinforcing the emotional impact of a work that combines the spiritual tradition with a symphonic language redolent of that of composers such as Dvorák and Brahms.

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