This is a very attractive, and most rewarding, recital of music,
much, if not all, of which will be totally unfamiliar to the
majority of those reading this. There’s a vast variety
of styles and sounds here, many taking the European model as
a starting point but each work quickly takes its own path in
a most fascinating way.
Fred Onovwerosuoke (from Nigeria) gets things off to a cracking
start with his Studies in African Rhythm
. This is strong
music with a very individual voice. Each piece imitates a dance
or musical pattern and they make a very attractive suite, with
lots of variety and plenty of fun. These six come from a set
of 24 and I yearn to hear the others. This taster is really too
good to miss. January Dance
by Ghanaian-born Robert Kwami
is a wonderfully quirky piece made up of a simple tune with a
kind of misplaced stride bass line. Totally enjoyable.
Two South African composers come next. Isak Roux’s Township
- the first of 9 Preludes in African Rhythm
is as entertaining as anything along the same lines by Gottschalk.
Around a repeated note motto the composer creates a fascinating
web of sound and builds a very satisfying work from the simplest
of means. Bongani Ndodana’s Flowers in Sand
nocturnes of Ivesian intensity. Egyptian Halim El Dabh offers
a Coma Dance
which, despite the connotations of the first
word of the title, is one of the most vivacious and outgoing
of all the works on this disk.
Amadeo Roldán was born in France but moved to Cuba where
he was leader, and later conductor, of the Havana Philharmonic,
he also founded the Havana String Quartet and was director of
the Havana Conservatoire. Roldán is also credited with
being the first composer to write works specifically for percussion
alone - the fifth and sixth of his Rítmicas
- which predate Varèse’s Ionisation
year. Preludio Cubano
is a bright and breezy miniature,
and it’s followed by a longer work which is no less delightful
- La Dangereuse
by Haitian Ludovic Lamothe. Alain-Pierre
Pradel’s Pomme Canelle
- a custard apple believed
to be native to the West Indies - is a sweet and agreeable morsel,
as, no doubt, is the apple.
The final three composers are American. Florence S Price was
the first African American composer to achieve national recognition
and the first to have their works performed by leading symphony
orchestras. The (3) Dances in the Canebrakes
pieces - a joyous dance, a sultry sun drenched noontime and a
cakewalk. Wallace Cheatham’s Three Preludes
by far the most advanced pieces here, polytonal and rhythmically
complicated, it will come as a surprise that all three pieces
are based on Spirituals! The Toccata
by Coleridge Taylor
Perkinson - named after the British composer of Hiawatha
- brings the recital to a rumbustious close.
This disk is a revelation - bringing together eleven composers
new to me, in performances of obvious dedication and great spirit.
William Chapman Nyaho is an excellent player and we are to be
grateful to him for bringing this hitherto unknown music to our
attention. I now want much more. The recording is very bright
and forthright, the piano well-focused and very forward. The
notes are full and fascinating. All in all, a real find.