In May London Decca Records released a CD that features the fantastic American violinist Randall Goosby alongside the Philadelphia Orchestra with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting. On the recording Goosby plays Bruch’s 1st Violin Concerto, as well as music by African-American composer Florence Price. For this latest project Goosby has recorded both of Florence Price’s Violin concertos as well as her gorgeous Adoration for violin and String Orchestra.
At the age of just 27, Goosby has established himself as one of the pre-eminent violinists of his generation. He made his debut with the Jacksonville symphony at the age of nine. He graduated from Julliard where one of his main teachers was Itzhak Perlman, and after graduating went on to perform as soloist with some of the worlds most renowned orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, and Philadelphia Orchestra to name just a few.
For this latest recording, the music of the African-American composer Florence Price is at the forefront. Performing music by black composers is something that Goosby is very passionate about. He has recorded music by other black composers such as William Grant Still, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson.
Goosby credits the Sphinx Organization with giving him some very definite direction in his career. Founded in 1997 by violinist Aaron P. Dworkin, the Sphinx Organization’s mandate is to foster the growth of Black and Latinx musicians, and to promote music by those who have been unjustly overlooked due to their color. They accomplish this by holding competitions, creating and performing in ensembles that feature Black and Latinx performers, and commissioning new works by Black and Latinx composers.
Goosby first took part in the Sphinx Organization’s competition in 2010 playing music of William Grant Still. As Goosby explains, “Once I started to near the end of my schooling I was thinking ‘why am I doing all this…what do I want to do with this whole music thing’ …the Sphinx Organization has played a huge part in my overarching desire with my career or whatever it is I do with music to bring a little bit more accessibility and diversity and just a sense of welcoming to people to who aren’t necessarily steeped in the classical music traditions.” Goosby continues, “Sphinx really provided an opportunity for me to do that, not only through actually hands on going into communities and playing and working and talking with people, but also through music that these communities might feel they can relate to a little bit more.’
When it comes to the music of Florence Price, Goosby describes it as some of the most quintessentially American music you can come across. “Florence Price draws on music from vastly different places…. One of the unique places from where she pulled inspiration is the quintessentially American genre of spirituals…black music…blues…jazz came out of it…there is a very personal, very soulful sort of texture that is woven into her music. That combined with this slightly more Euro-centric tradition that she was able to study at the New England Conservatory, makes for a very unique kind of fabric,” states Goosby. “All of her music is full of surprises. You can never really know what to expect. And I think these concerto are great examples of that characteristic.”
The other major work on the CD is Bruch’s much loved and well known 1st violin Concert in G minor. Recording the concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin was a real thrill for Goosby. “we were all just playing off each other the whole time…there was this current of energy between myself Yannick and the Orchestra. There is a real freshness to this particular rendition of the Bruch Concerto. It was a real joy to be able to record it with the all-star cast,” states Goosby.
This latest CD by Goosby featuring the violin concerts of Florence Price and Bruch’s G minor concerto is fantastic. The music is fantastic yes, but Goosby’s sound and playing are exquisite. Listeners will be hard pressed to find a better recording of the Bruch, and it will be a long time before any violinist comes close to Goosby’s interpretation and sound in the Price Concertos.