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Deep River

Coleridge / Smith / Baker / Siu / Park-kim
Release Date: 04/10/2012 
Label:  Msr   Catalog #: 1372  
Composer:  Samuel Coleridge-TaylorR. Nathaniel DettHoward SwansonHale Smith,   ... 
Performer:  Merwin SiuPhoenix Park-kim
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

DEEP RIVER Merwin Siu (vn); Phoenix Park-Kim (pn) MSR 1372 (54:42)

COLERIDGE-TAYLOR Deep River. Dett Cinnamon Grove. SWANSON Nocturne. H. SMITH Epicedial Variations. D. BAKER Ethnic Variations on a Theme of Paganini. Read more class="COMPOSER12"> E. Marsalis 4th Autumn

Deep River traces music by composers of African descent from the 1890s to the present. Whether British, Canadian, or United States citizens, they all had African roots and they all used that background in their compositions.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912) was an English violinist and composer whose music once attained such wide popularity that he was said to be an “African Mahler” by musicians in New York. Maud Powell, for whom he composed a violin concerto, arranged this version of Deep River for violin and piano. The well-known spiritual works very well in this version and it communicates a powerful message. R. Nathaniel Dett (1882–1943) was born to a Canadian mother and an American father. He wrote opulent piano music that was influenced by his African roots and he was a most successful teacher. His lyrical Cinnamon Grove is a well put-together series of piano pieces, each of which is based on a poem. Phoenix Park-Kim is a sensitive pianist and she interprets each of these short works beautifully. Howard Swanson (1907–78), who was a student of Nadia Boulanger in Paris, became noted for the intensity of his songs. He was a friend of Langston Hughes and set some of his poetry to music. Here, his Nocturne for violin and piano brings on the feeling of a cool, dark night with only a glimmer of moonlight. Hale Smith (1925–2009) had a distinguished career not only as a composer, but also as an editor, arranger, and teacher. Among his best-known works are Contours and Ritual and Incantations. His Epicedial Variations is edgy with unexpected harmonies.

David Nathaniel Baker, who was born in 1931, and Ellis L. Marsalis Jr., who was born in 1934, are the only living composers represented on this disc. Baker is professor of music and chair of the jazz department at Indiana University at Bloomington. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 and for a Grammy in 1979. His Ethnic Variations on a Theme of Paganini might really raise some purist eyebrows. Paganini might never have envisioned Baker’s “funky groove,” but if the composer had lived in the 20th century, he would have been a very different person. These variations are also found on a Czech Supraphon disc with violinist Pavel ?porcl and pianist Petr Jirikovski. Marsalis is regarded as the premier modern jazz pianist and teacher in New Orleans. Besides working with his own sons, Branford and Wynton, he taught pianist Harry Connick Jr., trumpeter Terence Blanchard, and saxophonist Donald Harrison. Currently, he is director of jazz studies at the University of New Orleans. His The Fourth Autumn is a calm and cooling piece that brings the listener back to a state of repose after the intensity of Baker’s variations. These selections were recorded between 2006 and 2010 and the various tracks have been very well programmed and fit together to have a single, clear-cut, pleasant ambiance.

FANFARE: Maria Nockin
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Works on This Recording

Negro Melodies (24), Op. 59 no 1: no 10, Deep river by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Performer:  Merwin Siu (Violin), Phoenix Park-kim (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1905; England 
Cinnamon Grove: Suite for Piano by R. Nathaniel Dett
Performer:  Merwin Siu (Violin), Phoenix Park-kim (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Nocturne for violin and piano by Howard Swanson
Performer:  Merwin Siu (Violin), Phoenix Park-kim (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Epicedial Variations by Hale Smith
Performer:  Merwin Siu (Violin), Phoenix Park-kim (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Ethnic Variations on a Theme of Paganini by David Nathaniel Baker
Performer:  Merwin Siu (Violin), Phoenix Park-kim (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Fourth Autumn by Ellis Marsalis
Performer:  Phoenix Park-kim (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 

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