Author Topic: William Grant Still  (Read 2338 times)

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Offline schweitzeralan

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William Grant Still
« on: January 19, 2009, 12:06:24 PM »
I think its time to modify this threaded comment. I was never aware of any specifics of Still's work until the last year.  Much of his symphonic works are predictably "folkloric" and are pervaded by Afro-american themes and tendencies.  Yet when I listeed to mamy of his piano works, I discovered that they were quite interesting and even exotic to a certain extent.  The piano works, such as "The Seven Traceries," and "Preludes" tend to reflect European, particularly, French influences, even impressionistic.  Anyone familiar with Still's piano works?  He may not be everyone's cup of tea; for me, I am impressed by the sutble tonalities of some of his piano music.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2009, 05:58:42 AM by schweitzeralan »

Offline Scion7

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Re: William Grant Still (1895-1978)
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2016, 05:19:42 AM »
Besides the well-written symphonies,
I would also recommend the Suite for Violin and Piano (1943) - Still utilized the Blues in European classical music forms.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2016, 12:35:00 AM by Scion7 »
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Offline Scion7

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Re: William Grant Still (1895-1978)
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2016, 12:32:47 AM »

^ click to enlarge

Recorded October, 1959
« Last Edit: September 15, 2016, 12:35:11 AM by Scion7 »
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cilgwyn

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Re: William Grant Still
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2016, 12:38:01 PM »
I like his music. The Second Symphony is my favourite. I find more depth in there than in than  the First,which has had more recordings. The slow movement is nice and soulful. A lovely piece. Great for late in the evening! I'd play it more,if Chandos had chosen more Grant Still as a coupling. I'll have to make a cd-r! I like the third symphony,too,on the Cambria label.  It needs a better recording,really;but the performances are quite spirited,and the couplings are quite charming. Soulful,I call them!  Another good one is 'Witness Vol ii' on the Collins Classics label. Some of the music is quite moving. The performances are very good. These are interesting cds to play after listening to Gershwin. He lacks Gershwin's ability to write those hit tunes,but the soulfulness of his music is compensation;and some of his music is,at it's best,a bit more thoughtful (excluding the sublime masterpiece Porgy and Bess from this comparison!). Only his opera 'Highway One' has disappointed me,so far. Well,actually,it was interesting to hear;but it really does sound like Gershwin without any half decent tunes. Again,soulful,in places! But it drags after a while. Maybe his earlier operas are more interesting? Something for an enterprising label to explore?! Dana Suesse is another one who composed along these lines. Comparisons with George Gershwin don't help her cause,though. I began to enjoy her 'Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra' (on Sono Luminus) allot more after I realised that her music was nothing like Gershwin's at all. It's more elegiac. I remember one critic said Billy Mayerl was a better comparison. Well,maybe? The Pearl cd of her playing her own music is rather evocative. The booklet notes are rather moving. I don't think Suesse was quite as inspired as she thought she was,based on what I've heard so far. That said,she was obviously a very talented musician;and I've enjoyed what little I've heard. A cd of her best concert works would be rather nice.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2016, 12:40:20 PM by cilgwyn »

Offline springrite

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Re: William Grant Still
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2016, 12:40:01 PM »
Back in the 80's I met and knew his daughter, and I was rather active in the William Grant Still society. But I really knew little of his music other than the symphonies and a couple of chamber pieces.
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cilgwyn

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Re: William Grant Still
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2016, 12:45:42 PM »
Interesting! There's quite a website going on here too!

http://www.williamgrantstillmusic.com/

Think I'll put a William Grant cd on in a minute? (Hurry up Mozart!! ;D) The Afro-American Symphony is my least favourite,even though it seems to be the most recorded (and performed?). (Not that I don't like it,mind!) However,I don't like the William Levi Dawson Symphony,which Chandos coupled with No 2,though. I usually skip it and jump tracks to Duke Ellington's 'Harlem',which is noisy,brash fun,when you're in the right mood!
« Last Edit: September 23, 2016, 02:28:59 AM by cilgwyn »

cilgwyn

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Re: William Grant Still
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2016, 08:26:56 AM »
I played the third symphony (on the Cambria label) a few nights ago. Contrary my observation above,I think it's a very good performance. The other pieces are all very appealing,too;and well performed. A nice cd all round. Well worth seeking out,if you warm to this composer.I particularly like his use of the saxophone and his slow movements have a soulful feel to them that is just right for late nights. I actually prefer No's 2 & 3 to the Afro-American Symphony,which gets the most attention. I also  like what little I have heard of his chamber music,and I shall certainly look at acquiring some of his piano music at some point.