They Persisted – Music by Pioneering Women Composers

I’m not usually a fan of politically-driven music programs. The works, primarily selected for their extra-musical qualities, tend to be not very good or not fit well together. Not so with this recording.

The album title references the now-famous phrase “Nevertheless, she persisted,” a rallying cry for the women’s movement.

And it makes sense in the context of this release. The three women featured persisted in composing music, despite cultural and personal pressures to the contrary.

Amy Beach gave up her concert career when she married, but continued composing. Her 1938 Piano Trio is a fairly late work. It’s written in a late-Romantic style, with a compact and efficiently organized structure.

Ursula Cole, like Beach, was a talented pianist. She worked as an editor at Time magazine while continuing to compose. Her 1930 Sonata for Violin and Piano has a Jazz Age feel to it, overlaid with late Romantic melodies.

Ethel Smyth was an early suffragette and something of a firebrand. She studied in Leipzig and knew the Schumanns, as well as Brahms. Her 1926 Concerto for violin and horn has a Brahmsian feel to it, especially in the violin writing.

Here’s the thing: to enjoy this release, you don’t need to know what the album title references. You don’t need to know the background of the composers. You don’t even need to know the gender of the composers. Just listen to the music.

If you’re like me, you’ll hear enthusiastic, committed performances. You’ll hear three well-crafted works that move the emotions. And that’s what any program of music should do.

They Persisted: Beach, Cole, Smyth
Amy Beach: Piano Trio, Op. 150; Ulric Cole: Violin Sonata; Ethel Smyth: Trio for Violin, Horn, and Piano
Joanna Goldstein, piano; Steven Moeckel, violin; Nicholas Finch, cello; Bruce Heim, horn
Centaur CRC3693

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