Review: Philadelphia Orchestra and Michelle Cann in new orchestration of Price piano concerto

Posted on: February 19, 2021

“There are more than a few astonishing aspects to Florence Price and her Piano Concerto in One Movement, starting with the fact that a Black woman in 1930s America managed to get her work noticed and performed by the classical music establishment,” writes Peter Dobrin in Wednesday’s (2/17) Philadelphia Inquirer. “But the thing that strikes me … is how much it says in so short a span … moving from storm to carefree summer idyll to ecstatic joy…. The great artistic coup of this week’s Philadelphia Orchestra Digital Stage presentation of the concerto is that although the work has been recorded before, a more stirring and authoritative performance may not exist….. Much of the credit goes to pianist Michelle Cann … who is exquisite…. The concerto … was well-received at its premiere in 1934, but at some point it disappeared…. A manuscript of the original orchestration turned up at auction in 2019, and two Cornell University music professors, Tamara Acosta and Stephen Spinelli, pitched the orchestra on the idea of programming the concerto…. Comparing the newly published original score, two-piano score, and [Trevor] Weston’s [2011 reconstruction], Spinelli and Acosta found more than 100 discrepancies or errors … and, working with Philadelphia Orchestra librarian Nicole Jordan, resolved them.”