Last month’s cover star impresses in an innovative pairing
The Strad Issue: October 2023
Description: Last month’s cover star impresses in an innovative pairing
Musicians: Randall Goosby (violin) Philadelphia Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Works: Bruch: Violin Concerto no.1 in G minor. Price: Violin Concerto no.1 in D major; Violin Concerto no.2; Adoration
Catalogue number: DECCA 4854234
Randall Goosby, a violinist whose star is very much in the ascendant, opens this recording with a wonderfully assured and lustrous performance of Bruch’s First Violin Concerto. But interest centres on the rest of the repertoire here, the two concertos by the black American composer Florence Price (plus Adoration, a short work given with some beautiful, syrupy double-stopping, which serves as a gorgeous sign-off).
Price’s First Concerto is a curious work: it was written in 1939 when she was in her early fifties and it leans heavily on Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, with almost literal quotations, combined with the pentatonicism of the spirituals she often used (‘Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen’ seems to peek out at times). Goosby, always responsive to the composer’s weaving lines, is as persuasive an advocate as could be hoped for, his tone always warm and expressive; the virtuosic moments are given with panache. The second-movement Andante is also in near-spiritual mode, with Goosby lush and articulate, as if singing imaginary lyrics. The final Allegro is light and jaunty, with some sparkling spiccato playing.
The Second Concerto (written in 1952, the year before Price’s death) is clearly a more mature work; during its 15-minute duration it ranges far, from caprice to brass-and-percussion drama, with a wealth of memorable melody which Goosby plays with limpid beauty.