Uncovered Vol. 3 from Catalyst Quartet
Uncovered Vol. 3—Catalyst Quartet (Azica 71357)
This is a Black History Month, digital-only release from Cleveland-based Azica Records and Grammy-winning producer Alan Bise, part of an anthology highlighting string quartets by significant Black composers. Three 3-movement works comprise the program: George Walker’s String Quartet No. 1 'Lyric,' Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson’s String Quartet No. 1 'Calvary,' and William Grant Still’s Lyric Quartette, all composed around 1940 to 1956. Walker and Perkinson are captured here at the beginning of their careers and Still at the height of his. Each work is a testament to its composer's place in concert music of the 20th century and deliberate engagements with what musicologist Eileen Southern called “Black musical materials” in their writing styles. Witness to the Black artistic, political, and social initiatives of their time, these musicians also lived through the deep social contradictions that exist to this day in the US and abroad. “[Still, Walker, and Perkinson] share exceptionally fruitful and diverse careers that brought them into the most coveted spaces of the concert music art world,” ethnomusicologist M. Myrta Leslie Santana wrote in the album booklet. “The renewed interest in their compositions will, however, belatedly, chip away at the dynamics that often hindered the circulation of their work.” Founded by the Sphinx Organization in 2010 and Grammy winners themselves, the Catalyst Quartet's members are violinists Karla Donehew Perez and Abi Fayette, violist Paul Laraia and cellist Karlos Rodriguez. The players have earned degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Curtis Institute, the Juilliard School and New England Conservatory. The first two releases in this series, all featured on WCLV, presented the works of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Florence Price.