Album cover George Walker The Cleveland Orchestra.Image Cleveland Orchestra

    As a black pianist, George Walker (1922-2018) was only asked for jazzy pieces like Rhapsody in Blue to play. He had considerably more success as a composer and became the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize for music. A century after Walker’s birth, the Cleveland Orchestra has the award-winning lament lilacs recorded with the brilliant soprano Latonia Moore. The orchestra itself provides a moving representation of Walker’s sound world, a fusion of atonal lines, post-impressionist harmonies and anxious dissonance.

    Conductor Franz Welser-Möst masterfully doses the dramatic tension, too Antiphonys and the Sinfonia numbers 4 and 5, in which menace predominates in the startled chords and ominously plummeting figures. Cautiously hopeful fragments of melody are blown away by hurried rhythms in all three works. Lightness is not a key word in Walker’s oeuvre, but the lingering melancholy that lasted for 45 minutes could have been softened with an invigorating piece, such as his fantastically orchestrated spirituals arrangements Folk Songs for Orchestra.

    The Cleveland Orchestra

    George Walker

    Classic

    ★★★☆☆

    The Cleveland Orchestra

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