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African Heritage Symphonic Series, Vol 2 / Freeman, Chicago Sinfonietta


Release Date: 01/29/2002 
Label:  Cedille Records   Catalog #: 61   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ulysses S. KayGeorge WalkerRoque CorderoAdolphus Hailstork,   ... 
Conductor:  Paul Freeman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Sinfonietta
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 51 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This highly worthwhile collection includes music by four African-American composers. (Roque Cordero's ethnic background is African-Panamanian.) No patronizing here: Freeman and Cedille let the music speak for itself, and speak it certainly does.

Ulysses Kay's overture in ternary form kicks things off with a healthy noise. Kay sets the challenge with tough harmonies and angular writing typical of 1968, the year of its composition. My only complaint is that the other three movements of the Theater Set were not included. This is followed by George Walker's Lyric for Strings, an elegiac work from 1941 that owes something to Samuel Barber's famous Adagio (whose original setting for string quartet was written in 1936) and Copland's
Read more music at its most tonal and introspective.

The longest of Cordero's Eight Miniatures, written in 1948, lasts only 2:27. In this taut set of laconic sketches, Corderò moves toward blending serialism with Panamanian folk and popular idioms. These include the Pasillo, a lopsided Colombian waltz, and the Afro-Caribbean Danzonete.

The two works by Adolphus Hailstork are less abstract. Unlike Jacques Ibert, Hailstork doesn't specify which city he is referring to in An American Port of Call (1985). He currently lives in the Tidewater area of Virginia, so Norfolk would be a fair guess. (Perhaps I am taking the title too literally.) The music bustles with positive activity. Colorful scoring, a hint of blues, a heart-swelling central section, and ample muscle and steel make An American Port of Call an exciting and fast-moving experience. Epitaph for a Man who Dreamed is subtitled "In Memoriam: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ( 1929-1968)." The title of this work, written in 1979, comes from Genesis 37:19-20: "They said one to another, 'Behold, here cometh the dreamer. Let us slay him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams'." Again, the writing is mournful and elegiac, but it also is quietly determined, and—at the end—hopeful. Hailstork's avoidance of the facile and the obvious makes this Epitaph a moving experience for all who will hear it.

Hale Smith's Ritual and Incantations—primal, powerful, and evil—brings Silvestre Revueltas (specifically, his Sensemaya) to mind. Smith, however, like Corderò, flirts with serialism while never completely adopting it. And, like Hailstork, Smith's scoring is imaginative, and his use of percussion is particularly evocative. Paul Freeman and the Chicago Sinfonietta play these unfamiliar works with polish, and with a sincere genuineness of purpose. If only all composers had it so good.

These recordings were made in 1995 and 2001. As always, Cedille's engineering is spectacular, with plenty of spatial realism and warmth. By the way, if you are curious about Volume One (and I am), it can be found on Cedille CDR 90000 055.

FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle
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Works on This Recording

1.
Theater Set: Overture by Ulysses S. Kay
Conductor:  Paul Freeman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1968; USA 
Date of Recording: 01/15/2001 
Venue:  Dominican University, River Forest, IL 
Length: 4 Minutes 28 Secs. 
2.
Lyric for Strings by George Walker
Conductor:  Paul Freeman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946/1990; USA 
Date of Recording: 01/15/2001 
Venue:  Dominican University, River Forest, IL 
Length: 5 Minutes 17 Secs. 
3.
Miniatures (8) for Small Orchestra by Roque Cordero
Conductor:  Paul Freeman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; Panama 
Date of Recording: 05/10/1995 
Venue:  Dominican University, River Forest, IL 
Length: 11 Minutes 47 Secs. 
4.
An American Port of Call by Adolphus Hailstork
Conductor:  Paul Freeman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984; USA 
Date of Recording: 05/10/1995 
Venue:  Dominican University, River Forest, IL 
Length: 8 Minutes 32 Secs. 
5.
Epitaph for a man who dreamed by Adolphus Hailstork
Conductor:  Paul Freeman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979; USA 
Date of Recording: 05/10/1995 
Venue:  Dominican University, River Forest, IL 
Length: 7 Minutes 37 Secs. 
6.
Ritual and Incantations by Hale Smith
Conductor:  Paul Freeman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974; USA 
Date of Recording: 01/15/2001 
Venue:  Dominican University, River Forest, IL 
Length: 12 Minutes 45 Secs. 

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