Review of LNT144: Fantasie Nègre - The Piano Music of Florence Price
Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post
Elsewhere in delicate restorations is a newly restored piece of music history. In 2019, the pianist, musicologist and Florence Price scholar Samantha Ege (currently Lord Crewe junior research fellow in music at Lincoln College, University of Oxford) visited the Florence Price archives at the University of Arkansas, determined to locate the composer’s four “Fantasie Nègre” solo pieces for piano, never published in Price’s lifetime. “The histories of Black women composers from the past are often such a challenge to recuperate,” Ege tells me in an email, “because of the lack of publishing opportunities in their time, the scant documentation of their achievements, and their absence in institutional archives.” The resultant stunner of a collection, “The Piano Music of Florence Price,” collects (for the first time) all four Fantasies, as well as a trio of untitled sketches and another cluster of “Snapshots” — with all but the first of the Fantasies drawn from archives discovered in 2009 at Price’s summer home in St. Anne, Ill. These Fantasies capture Price at her most expressive, and this performance finds Ege at her most intuitive, especially when it comes to the Third, which Ege reassembled from its two extant pages and loose pages that beckoned to her from a different key. “The twists and turns that I had tried to make sense of in my head when I was in the archives came together once I sat at the piano,” she says. Similarly, Price’s music — its pride, elegance, folk echoes and blue hues — fills some essential gaps in the story of American music.