Edward Bhesania listens to the performance of at London’s Purcell Room on 14 January 2024 


Randall Goosby: embracing experimentation. Photo: Kaupo Kikkas

At the end of this programme – titled ‘Intersections: Black Music & Words’ – Randall Goosby remarked to the audience with some pride and not a little relief that he hadn’t known how it would turn out. He needn’t have worried, thanks in no small part to his naturally poised playing, propelled by a sweet and rich tone.

The concert, around 80 minutes without an interval, interweaved words and music from Black writers and composers, with Randall informally addressing the audience. Viola player and writer Jameel Martin lent his rich bass voice in readings of his own texts before each of the five numbers selected from the Negro Melodies by Coleridge-Taylor (originally for solo piano and arranged for piano trio).

The Movement for string trio by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson brought a more modern idiom, its metrical tricks – described by Goosby as ‘rhythmic mischief’ – smoothly negotiated, and the work’s spareness in places imbued with great intensity.

For André Previn’s Four Songs for soprano, cello and piano (the soprano line arranged for violin), it probably wasn’t necessary both to precede each song with a reading of Toni Morrison’s text and to have the soprano part projected on the back wall, but the expression ranged from bleak to wistful to sublime. A crowd-pleaser to end – Air on a G String – ensured the audience went away happy.