George Walker: Antifonys, Lilacs, Sinfonias Nos. 4 & 5

George Walker: Antifonys, Lilacs, Sinfonias Nos. 4 & 5

The African American composer George Walker won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 yet continually struggled to have his work performed by leading orchestras. Since his death in 2018, however, Walker’s music has attracted increased attention, and this Cleveland Orchestra album surveys four of his most substantial pieces. The Pulitzer-winning Lilacs, setting verses by Walt Whitman, is one of these and is fulsomely sung by soprano Latonia Moore. Walker’s Sinfonias Nos. 4 & 5 highlight the tautness of his musical thought processes and his lean, athletic orchestration. The Cleveland strings bring a bracing intensity to the brief Antifonys, and conductor Franz Welser-Möst’s palpable commitment to all four works makes this an ideal introduction to Walker’s music.

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