Dark Fires

Steven Neugarten (piano)

Catalog #: TROY0266
Release Date: October 1, 1997
Format: Digital

The significance of this four-volume recording project is its celebration of 20th century compositions for piano and some Chamber works written by Americans of African descent that have never been recorded or have had limited recorded performance. The contributions of the American composer of African descent to classical music is rarely addressed, and as a result, this music remains virtually unknown. Of the estimated 300 American composers of African descent listed in Readings in Black American Music: A Biographical Dictionary, few are known by most musicians, and little of their music is heard in concerts or on radio today. Furthermore, recordings of their classical music are difficult to locate because so very little of the music is available on compact disc. This compilation of works will be vital in addressing this problem. The works presented on this disc include a unique historical content and a variety of styles both quoted and extracted from the various traditional idioms of the composer's heritage. The selected works presented in this first volume are representative of many 20th century styles and compositional ideas; the 12-tone serial techniques of Hale Smith, the multimetric and asymmetrical writings of Adolphus Hailstork, the Neo-Classic style of Roger Dickerson, the polymetric writings of Jeffrey Mumford, and the Cuban-African traditions of Tania Leon.


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Track Listing

Title Composer Performer
Three Rhapsodies for Piano Lettie Beckon Alston Karen Walwyn, piano
Sonatina Roger Dickerson Karen Walwyn, piano
Piano Sonata No. 1 Adolphus Hailstork Karen Walwyn, piano
Ritual Tania Leon Karen Walwyn, piano
Fragments from the surrounding evening Jeffrey Mumford Karen Walwyn, piano
Evocation Hale Smith Karen Walwyn, piano
Toccata Dolores White Karen Walwyn, piano


  • "This collection of works by seven composers is the beginning of a four-disc project devoted to music of African American composers. The music is played perceptively by Karen Walwyn, who shows considerable range. She is virtuosic in Dolores White's toccata and Lettie Beckon Alston's Three Rhapsodies, meditative and energetic in Tania Leon's Ritual, angular and rich-textured in Hale Smith's Evocation, traditional and polished in Roger Dickerson's Sonatina and Adolphus Hailstork's Piano Sonata No. 1, and vividly evocative and impressionistic in Jeffrey Mumford's fragments from the surrounding evening. After hearing this disc, it is impossible to generalize about African American composers today except to say that they are solidly in the American mainstream."

    – Washington Post

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