09 July 2021
By Ellie Palmer
The new release on Decca Classics is available to stream on all major platforms
Following on from her award-winning, debut album Romance, British pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason has released 'Summertime', a collection of works by some of her favourite American composers.
The album aims to take the listener on a journey through the musical landscape of 20th century America, with a rich programme anchored around Samuel Barber’s fierce Piano Sonata in E-flat minor, which received its premiere in 1949, performed by Vladimir Horowitz.
The album includes a world premiere recording of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s ‘Impromptu No.2 in B Minor’, released 110 years after it was originally published in London. Coleridge-Taylor transcribed a set of folk tunes deriving from West Africa, hoping to showcase the music in the same way as Brahms did for Hungarian music, and Grieg for Norwegian. Coleridge-Taylor’s father was of Sierra Leone heritage, mirroring Isata’s own parentage on her mother Kadiatu’s side.
Earl Wild’s dazzling arrangements of the music of George Gershwin – ‘Summertime’ from his Grand Fantasy on Porgy & Bess plus ‘I Got Rhythm’, the sixth of his seven Virtuoso Etudes – sit alongside the composer’s own Three Preludes and Percy Grainger’s concert arrangement of Gershwin’s ‘The Man I Love’. Gershwin’s Three Preludes, published in 1926, epitomise his instantly recognisable classical-meets-jazz style, with bluesy harmonies and syncopated rhythms.
Watch Isata perform the iconic 'I Got Rhythm' (After George Gershwin) by Earl Wind below.
Isata says, “I am delighted to be presenting my second solo album 'Summertime', which features a rich array of pieces from many of my favourite American classical composers. The Barber Piano Sonata forms the anchor around which the rest of the album was developed; I fell in love with the piece the first time I heard it, and it’s a real pleasure to have recorded it for Decca.
I wanted this album to illustrate the diversity of music in America at that time, and so it was important to me to include the more familiar Gershwin songs, as well as the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor spirituals to which I feel a personal connection.”