Violin Concertos by Black Composers Reissue adds Florence Price

This is more than an anniversary reissue. Cedille updates the release by including a new recording. When Rachel Barton Pine recorded these works in 1997, she was an explorer. The works — and even the names — of Black composers were virtually unknown.

When it was released, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was the biggest name in the program. But he was known primarily for his cantata “Hiawatha.” His Romance in G? Not so much.

The boom in Joseph Bologne recordings was still in the future. And José White Lafitte is still waiting for his.

Barton Pine’s committed and electrifying performances brought these works to light.

Twenty-five years later, both Coleridge-Taylor and Bologne have multiple recordings that go deep into their catalogs. And a new Black composer of the past has emerged — Florence Price.

This reissue includes Price’s Second Violin Concerto. Price wrote it shortly before her death in 1952. It had never been performed and was considered lost. The concerto was part of the cache of Price manuscripts rediscovered in 2009.

It’s a compact concerto — less than 15 minutes long — but it packs a punch. Barton Pines’s performance crackles with good-natured energy. And the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, directed by Jonathon Heyward, is right there with her.

With the addition of this work, Barton Pine’s survey of Black composers runs from the 1790s through the 1950s. To me, the reissue is a more comprehensive survey, and a more satisfying listen.

Violin Concertos by Black Composers Through the Centuries: 25th Anniversary Edition
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges; José White Lafitte; Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; Florence Price
Rachel Barton Pine, violin
Encore Chamber Orchestra; Daniel Hege, conductor
Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Jonathon Heyward, conductor
Cedille Records CDR 90000 214

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