The Women’s Philharmonic under Apo Hsu, Florence Price: The Oak; Mississippi River Suite; Symphony No.3 in c minor

Gavin Borchert

By Gavin Borchert

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Fresh, richly tuneful and unsophisticated in the best sense.

When her Symphony No. 3 was played by the Chicago Symphony in 1940, Florence Price became the first African-American woman composer to be performed by a major American orchestra. Most of her music came in the smaller domestic genres of piano pieces and songs (performed by some of the top singers of her day), but she also wrote four symphonies and the two orchestral works which round out this disc. Mississippi River Suite is an arrestingly orchestrated medley of folksongs (in settings emotionally intimate, for the most part, rather than grandiose), but she proudly incorporated African-American dance and blues idioms into her abstract works as well, such as the Symphony. Fresh, richly tuneful, unsophisticated in the best sense, and joyous, Price's music is here played with brio and conviction by the San Francisco-based Women's Philharmonic under Apo Hsu.