Florence Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3

Florence Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3

Florence Price was the first African American woman to have a symphony performed by a major American orchestra: her Symphony No. 1, by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, in 1933. Nearly 90 years later, the great Philadelphia Orchestra—another major US ensemble—again puts her music center stage. And what lovely music it is, deftly scored with an open-eyed innocence and a folksy gait. The Philadelphia’s winds and strings sound quite gorgeous. Symphony No. 3 (1938-40) shows Price’s growth as a composer and her burgeoning confidence as an orchestrator. Here, the brass play a larger role, which hints at Wagner’s influence. It’s hard to imagine better performances, or a more ravishing sound quality.

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