Catalyst Quartet

Catalyst Quartet today releases UNCOVERED Volume 2: Florence B. Price on Azica Records. The 2-CD length digital album is the second in a multi-volume anthology highlighting the GRAMMY award-winning string quartet’s performances of important Black composers’ works.

Volume 2 is entirely devoted to the six known string quartet and piano quintet works of composer Florence B. Price, including four world premiere recordings performed with pianist Michelle Cann, recipient of the 2021 Price Award.

The album consists of several previously unrecorded works including string quartets and piano quintets, including Price’s Quintet in A minor for Piano and Strings; Negro Folksongs in Counterpoint for String Quartet; String Quartet in A minor; Five Folksongs in Counterpoint for String Quartet; and her unfinished String Quartet in G Major and Quintet for Piano and Strings.

In selecting the works, the group explains that “the six works in UNCOVERED Vol. 2 highlight Price’s most productive years and her unique cultural identity. Her experience as a Black woman displaced because of the deep racism of the Jim Crow south; a wife and mother fleeing from an abusive husband; a prodigious organ student at the New England Conservatory; and as an important contributor to the great Chicago Renaissance between 1935 and 1950, where she associated with icons such as Langston Hughes, Marion Anderson, and Margaret Bonds; shaping her body of work while contributing authentically to American music in its depth and beauty.”

“The works on this album are a powerful reminder that America’s romantic classical vernacular, as prophesied by Dvorak, owes an incredible amount to the voices history has overlooked and suppressed.”

The group’s first album in the series UNCOVERED Vol. 1 was released last February to critical acclaim. It featured the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor with guest collaborators pianist Stewart Goodyear and clarinetist Anthony McGill. Volume 3 and beyond will feature works by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still, and George Walker among others.

The San Francisco Chronicle described the Catalyst Quartet’s live performance of the works from Vol. 1 as, “an evening of smart, arresting music by Black composers, executed with skill and panache”.

About the Catalyst Quartet:

“Hailed by The New York Times at its Carnegie Hall debut as “invariably energetic and finely burnished… playing with earthy vigor,” the Grammy Award-winning Catalyst Quartet was founded by the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Organization in 2010. The ensemble (Karla Donehew Perez, violin; Abi Fayette, violin; Paul Laraia, viola; and Karlos Rodriguez, cello) believes in the unity that can be achieved through music and imagine their programs and projects with this in mind, redefining and reimagining the classical music experience.Read more about the quartet here.

About Michelle Cann:

“A compelling, sparkling virtuoso” (Boston Music Intelligencer), pianist Michelle Cann made her orchestral  debut at age fourteen and has since performed as a soloist with numerous orchestras  including The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

A champion of the music of Florence Price, Ms. Cann performed the New York City premiere of the composer’s Piano Concerto in One Movement with The Dream Unfinished Orchestra in July 2016 and the Philadelphia premiere with The Philadelphia Orchestra in February 2021, which the Philadelphia Inquirer called “exquisite.” Read more about Michelle Cann here.