FLORENCE PRICE’S SCENES OF TENEMENT LIFE
Today witnesses the release of 2022’s second milestone in the recorded legacy of Florence B. Price: the world-premiere recording of Florence Price’s 1941 masterpiece, Scenes in Tin Can Alley- a three movement programmatic suite that occupied her for some thirteen years, from the first version of the first movement (1928) to the final version of the complete suite (1941). It’s a big piece, beautiful and with a wide emotional range, and Price — who by the time of the suite’s completion was fifty-four and had been living on the South side of segregated Chicago for about thirteen years — provided descriptive titles and programs that make it one of her most explicit musical statements on racial justice:
- I. “The Huckster”: Price doesn’t provide a description, but none is needed: hucksters are fixtures of life in low-income areas;
- II. “Children at Play”: Children at play pause to stare at an old, crippled woman who passes along searching in garbage cans for food. The pitiful figure disappears, is soon forgotten and the children quickly resume their play; and
- III. “Night”: The scene is sordid. There comes a slinking figure. Occasionally there is a swift movement — something scurrying to its shelter. From within a squalid tenement comes the plaintive wail of a child, also the complaint of an older member of the family.
This important album also presents two of Price’s other obvious statements on racial justice: Thumbnail Sketches of a Day in the Life of a Washerwoman (also the world-premiere commercial recording) and Three Miniature Sketches of Uncle Ned (ditto), as well as the first commercial recording of the Village Scenes (1942), the utterly fabulous Cotton Dance, the second-ever commercial recording of the complete set of Preludes for Piano, and a new recording of the masterpiece Clouds. Josh willed it into existence out of thin air, his artistry, and his commitment to helping some of the hundreds of compositional utterances of Florence Price that were, and have remained, silenced by the system racism of society, to be heard.
I hope you’ll check it out.
· Listen on Apple Music/iTunes: https://music.apple.com/us/album/1621295852
· Listen on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/13XPKX8yT1J7nK9FBrmO5W
· Listen on Amazon Music: https://amazon.com/dp/B09YS4FCD8
· Listen on Tidal: https://tidal.com/album/228850857
· Listen on Deezer: https://www.deezer.com/album/313478007
You can also buy a signed copy from me for $20 with PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/instantcomm.../checkout/JYN2X2HPLFPWW
Originally published at https://cooperm55.wixsite.com on June 3, 2022.