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PRICE, F.B.: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 4 (Fort Smith Symphony, Jeter)


Naxos 8.559827

   Fanfare, November 2019
   Strings Magazine, July 2019
   American Record Guide, July 2019
   Fanfare, July 2019
   Classical Lost and Found, May 2019
   Record Geijutsu, May 2019
   Fanfare, May 2019
   Fanfare, May 2019
   Fanfare, May 2019
   Fanfare, May 2019
   Limelight, April 2019
   Gramophone, April 2019
   BBC Music Magazine, April 2019
   MusicWeb International, April 2019
   La Folia, March 2019
   Textura, March 2019
   The WholeNote, March 2019
   MusicWeb International, March 2019
   Classical Ear, March 2019
   ClassicsToday.com, March 2019
   ClassicalCDReview.com, March 2019
   Cinemusical, February 2019
   AllMusic.com, February 2019
   Stereophile, January 2019
   National Public Radio, January 2019
   WFMT (Chicago), January 2019
   The New York Times, January 2019
   Pizzicato, January 2019
   National Sawdust Log, January 2019
   David's Review Corner, January 2019
   Records International, January 2019

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Dave Saemann
Fanfare, November 2019

The world premiere recording of Florence Price’s 1945 Symphony No. 4 presents a work rich in the American Romantic tradition, but also incorporating African-American colors and rhythms. Led by John Jeter, Arkansas’s Fort Smith Symphony is a stylish, well-trained ensemble in this performance. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review



Strings Magazine, July 2019

For decades the American composer Florence Price (1887—1953) was a footnote in music-history books. After a renewal of interest in women and minority composers in the past two decades and the 2009 discovery of a cache of Price’s music in a dilapidated Illinois house, a very welcome Price revival has begun.

The result is a uniquely American polystylism that concertgoers should know about. With this recording, John Jeter and the Fort Smith Symphony of Arkansas make a significant contribution to the Price renaissance. © 2019 Strings Magazine Read complete review



Roger Hecht
American Record Guide, July 2019

These are excellent performances—possibly the best I have heard of Florence Price’s music. Conductor Jeter has a good feel for it, the Fort Smith Symphony acquits itself in stellar fashion, and the sound is natural. Shadle’s notes supply a fine introduction to Price and the two symphonies. I look forward to more such recordings. © 2019 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



David DeBoor Canfield
Fanfare, July 2019

John Jeter and his Fort Smith Symphony give these two works splendid readings. … Highly recommended in the “American music that deserves to be much better known” department. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review



Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, May 2019

The Arkansas, Fort Smith Symphony under their music director and award-winning, conductor John Jeter makes a strong case for this music by one of their native daughters. Maestro Jeter gets superb playing from these talented musicians, and in that regard, their rendition of Price’s First Symphony far surpasses what’s previously been available on disc. © 2019 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review




Akihiro Taniguchi
Record Geijutsu, May 2019

The disc starts with Symphony No. 1 in E minor premiered by Chicago Symphony Orchestra which had Florence Price won her recognition as a composer. After the lyrical theme, African drumming and juba dance even a sound slide whistle follows. The world premiere recording of No. 4 is a melodious black spiritual songs. © 2019 Record Geijutsu



Henry Fogel
Fanfare, May 2019

The performances here are superb. … Conductor John Jeter has been Music Director of the Fort Smith (Arkansas) Symphony for more than 20 years. He has developed a fine ensemble, one that plays with technical finesse and a sense of involvement and commitment. The recorded sound is very clear and well balanced, providing good instrumental detail without losing the overall blend. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review



Dave Saemann
Fanfare, May 2019

John Jeter and the Fort Smith Symphony do these works proud, and veteran producer Tim Handley has provided highly agreeable sound engineering. … Music of this caliber, once released, has a way of making its path through the world. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review



Colin Clarke
Fanfare, May 2019

Price has a way of skewing harmonies unexpectedly, and illuminatingly. … Price opts to close this [Fourth] symphony with a big-boned scherzo. The sheer energy of the close of the work is remarkable, pinpointed by Jeter and his forces.

The recording, produced, engineered and edited single-handedly by Tim Handley, is superb. 

This, surely, is what record collecting is all about. Discoveries, finding a new composer to inspire and enrich, and looking on from those discoveries to what they can lead to. Here is a release that brings many riches. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review



Karl F. Miller
Fanfare, May 2019

Dunner will occasionally offer a bit more intensity in his reading, especially in the first movement, while Jeter lets the music build, working more towards the climax. Both approaches have their merits. While I might have liked some brisker tempos in a few places, Jeter’s reading of the work is excellent, with his vision of the music very much in keeping with the simplicity and nobility to be found in the music. The Fort Smith recording of the Fourth Symphony is its first. This recording is but one more indication of the remarkable level of performance and richness of sound that can be found in orchestras other than those found in the “major” cities. I hope that it will continue to explore the rich repertoire of American music. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review




Phillip Scott
Limelight, April 2019

Price brilliantly captures its joyous enthusiasm, integrating it into European symphonic form. Elsewhere she taps into an Ivesian Americana (as in the First Symphony’s hymn-like Largo). Price was the real thing, and these performances in excellent sound do her proud. © 2019 Limelight Read complete review



Patrick Rucker
Gramophone, April 2019

With the exception of an allusion to the spiritual ‘Wade in the water’ in the first movement of the Fourth Symphony, Price does not quote folk music but evokes it through characteristic melodic and rhythmic gestures. Her handling of the orchestra is idiomatic and strikingly original, with solos generously allocated throughout the ensemble. Each symphony describes a grand emotional trajectory, over the course of four movements, from deep seriousness to redemptive joy.

The introduction or, more appropriately, restoration of Price’s unique voice is unquestionably an enrichment of the American symphonic canon. © 2019 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone




BBC Music Magazine, April 2019

From the soulful, bittersweet string melody in the opening Allegro ma non troppo to the emphatic Scherzo finale, this a rich score that winningly blends European and African American influences. © 2019 BBC Music Magazine



Michael Wilkinson
MusicWeb International, April 2019

The sound world reveals the influences of romantic symphonists, notably Dvořák and Brahms, but also Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, though the composer who first comes to mind is the Ives of the First and Second Symphonies. Nevertheless, Price has her own confident voice.

The performances are very accomplished: one senses the commitment of both conductor and orchestra. The notes are helpful and informative, and, overall, this will give much delight. © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Grant Chu Covell
La Folia, March 2019

Price is experiencing a resurgence for all sorts of good reasons. Every reviewer and annotator of these works cites Dvořák whose Ninth with its European form and American flavors established a stylistic precedent. But it’s also important to mention Chadwick and Beach who were strong early 20th-century models. We know that Price encountered sexism and racism, but after moving to Chicago in 1927, her musical career began to flourish.

Crisply executed by the Fort Smith Symphony, this tuneful music is worth exploring… © 2019 La Folia Read complete review



Textura, March 2019

In these works, one hears Price writing material that positions itself comfortably within the classical music canon yet at the same time preserves her identity as an African-American artist. Further to that, the material compellingly argues that the recognition her work has recently received is warranted. © 2019 Textura Read complete review



Bruce Surtees
The WholeNote, March 2019

The Fourth Symphony is similarly constructed with an Andante cantabile second movement à la Dvořák. The third movement is again a Juba Dance and the final movement, a mighty Scherzo. I am very interested in hearing more of Florence Price. © 2019 The WholeNote Read complete review




Stephen Greenbank
MusicWeb International, March 2019

The Fort Smith Symphony deliver riveting performances of these two symphonic works, under the direction of their charismatic conductor John Jeter. This compelling music could have no better advocates. This constitutes a good starting point for those who haven’t already encountered Price’s music and are curious. © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review




Michael Quinn
Classical Ear, March 2019

All but forgotten in the years following her death in 1953 at the age of 63, Florence Beatrice Price’s claim to fame lies in her being the first African-American woman to be performed by a major American orchestra. That was her First Symphony, premiered in Chicago in 1933 and heard here in a rewarding account by the Fort Smith Symphony under John Jeter. If debts to Dvořák, William Grant Still and traditional spirituals are obvious, so too is Price’s lyrical facility, ripely buoyant and imbued with vernacular colour. The third movement ‘Juba Dance’ is a delightful exercise in colloquial humour, engaging syncopation and winning jeu d’esprit, the finale liquid and lithe. A sprightly Juba also features in the Fourth Symphony (1945) which makes its first welcome appearance here on disc. Cast, like its predecessor in four movements, it’s a more accomplished blend of American and European accents sugared and spiced by Price’s own idiom with its distinctive, tune-led feel for her native soil. © 2019 Classical Ear



David Hurwitz
ClassicsToday.com, March 2019

The Fort Smith Symphony hails from Price’s home state of Arkansas, and was founded in 1923, although it operates on a “fee for service basis.” In other words, it’s a full-size, pick-up ensemble, and it plays very well under conductor John Jeter. © 2019 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review



Robert E. Benson
ClassicalCDReview.com, March 2019

This is the premiere recording of Symphony No. 4. Both works are splendidly performed by the Fort Smith Symphony, founded in 1993. It is a community orchestra of professional players, and has been led since by 1997 by John Jeter who won the Governor’s Award for “Individual Artist of the State of Arkansas.” He also has won many other awards, and elicits top quality performances from his musicians. The recordings were made May 13-14, 2018 at ArcBest Performing Arts Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and engineers have captured exemplary sonics This is an important issue. Don’t miss it! © 2019 ClassicalCDReview.com Read complete review




Cinemusical, February 2019

Price’s name deserves to be placed alongside other early 20th Century African American symphonists such as William Grant Still and William Dawson. This is likely one of the label’s most significant releases of obscure American symphonic music in some time and is not to be missed. © 2019 Cinemusical Read complete review




James Manheim
AllMusic.com, February 2019

The Fort Smith Symphony, from Price’s home state delivers idiomatic performances, and the Symphony No. 4 finale is especially exciting. Highly recommended. © 2019 AllMusic.com Read complete review



Jason Victor Serinus
Stereophile, January 2019

Well-played by the Fort Smith Symphony of Arkansas, conducted by John Jeter, the opening of Price’s Symphony No.1 in e will surely remind music lovers of Dvorák’s “New World Symphony.” (Musicologist Rae Linda Brown also points to the influence of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.) Catchy melodies abound, with a variety of percussion adding color to the mix. © 2019 Stereophile Read complete review



Tom Huizenga
National Public Radio, January 2019

Price’s First Symphony, along with her Fourth, has just been released on an album featuring the Fort Smith Symphony, conducted by John Jeter.

Price and her music were well received in Chicago. The great contralto Marian Anderson closed her legendary 1939 Lincoln Memorial concert with a piece arranged by Price. © 2019 National Public Radio Read complete review



Lisa Flynn
WFMT (Chicago), January 2019

Florence Price was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and studied at the New England Conservatory, but it was in Chicago that her composing career accelerated. The concert in 1933 at which her Symphony No. 1 in E minor was premiered was the first time a major American orchestra had performed a piece written by an African-American woman. Influenced by Dvořák and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, she drew on the wellspring of Negro spirituals and vernacular dances, full of lyricism and syncopation. The Symphony No. 4 in D minor demonstrates her tight ensemble writing, her distinct sense of orchestral color, her Ellingtonian language, and her penchant for the ‘juba’ dance. © 2019 WFMT (Chicago)



Seth Colter Walls
The New York Times, January 2019

The welcome revival of interest in the composer Florence Price continues this week, with the release of a buoyant recording of her First and Fourth symphonies, with the Fort Smith Symphony of Arkansas conducted by John Jeter.

Both works bear trace influences of folk forms—including, as the musicologist Douglas W. Shadle writes in the liner notes, a reference to “Wade in the Water” during the Fourth’s opening movement. But there are as many sections that seem like a composer channeling her own individual muse. Among the most compelling moments is the close of the Fourth—a scherzo full of slaloming melody (and, in the final minutes, some pleasingly potent tutti chords). © 2019 The New York Times




Remy Franck
Pizzicato, January 2019

Discovering Florence Beatrice Price’s symphonies is most rewarding. In terms of orchestral expertise and flair, of colours and atmosphere the music of the Afro-American composer is remarkable. The Naxos recording offers very good playing from the Fort Smith Symphony and deserves to be heard and appreciated. © 2019 Pizzicato



Steve Smith
National Sawdust Log, January 2019

The performances are solid and stylish, as is the recording by producer Tim Handley. The concise yet detailed and informative liner notes are by Douglas Shadle… But there’s a freshness and commitment in these performances that wins you over right away.

…the Fort Smith ensemble plays more smoothly and securely, and you’ll certainly want to hear the comparatively little known Fourth Symphony. © 2019 National Sawdust Log Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2019

Born in 1887, Florence Beatrice Price was one of the small group of American female composers in the early 20th century, and the only one of African descent. It was the encouragement of her parents, who had risen to the middle-class in the south of the United States, that took her to the early stages of a musical education, but no white teacher would take her any further. She later moved north where such prohibitions were less prevalent, taking formal lessons from George Whitefield Chadwick that was to lead to a life that contained many new compositions. The disc’s excellent programme notes fully detail that life from her youthful days through to the 1930’s and her First Symphony. Let me not lead you to think this disc is going to be a ground-breaking discovery, but you will find a composer who was adept at creating cheerful melody mostly written in a West European mode and in a purely tonal language. She also knew how to compose works of length and within a very ordered four movements. There is said to be negro folk music elements, but unless you know what you are looking for, I doubt that you will be conscious of that, though there is certainly Americana in the slow movement of the First. That score dates from 1932 and was given its first performance by the Chicago Symphony following a first prize competition success. By contrast the Fourth was completed in 1945, but had still to receive its premiere when Price died in 1953, and showed a much greater maturity. There is an obvious debt here to Dvorak’s ‘New World’ Symphony, especially in the slow second movement, and had it come to been written thirty years previous, it may have established a place in the American repertoire. Neither score makes great demands on the orchestra, and the large Fort Smith Symphony, conducted by John Jeter, communicate a pleasure in discovering these works. The sound engineering is in the top tier of the premiere league. © 2019 David’s Review Corner



Records International, January 2019

Price’s first symphony (1932) was first recorded for Albany Records back in 2011 and African-American musical elements are especially prominent in its mixing with European Romanticism with a strong dose of Dvořák in the first movement. Also striking was the third movement Juba Dance which, as the notes describe it, was “an antebellum slave style [of dance] characterized by complex body percussion (foot stomping, chest patting) and syncopated melodies”. The Fourth of 1945 is in the same style and form—four movements complete with Juba Dance—with jazz elements a stronger presence (“Ellingtonian ‘jungle style’”) than before. Particularly impressive is the extent of development and elaboration in the 15-minute first movement of small bits of an original tune and of a Negro spiritual. © 2019 Records International





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