Isata Kanneh-Mason

Summertime

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Summertime Review

by James Manheim

It might seem from a casual perusal of the program here that this release by young sensation Isata Kanneh-Mason consists of two hardly linked segments. The first, featuring Gershwin arrangements by Earl Wild and the fearsomely difficult Piano Sonata in E flat minor, Op. 26, of Samuel Barber, is devoted to technical brilliance, while the second brings Kanneh-Mason closer to roots in African-derived music, closing with works and arrangements by composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, but the two halves connect well. They interpenetrate, for one thing; the Wild pieces announce that the album will be both technically difficult and connected to African American music. In the second part of the program, Kanneh-Mason seems to take a step back from all the brilliance to focus on deeper musical wells. It's an exceptionally thoughtful approach. Kanneh-Mason takes little detours from the theme, and each one contributes something. Listen to the little-known By the Still Waters, Op. 114, of Amy Beach, which is not African-derived at all; it has a marvelous effect on Kanneh-Mason's Schimmel piano. As she winds down from the rigors of the Barber, she offers Percy Grainger's arrangement of The Man I Love, and she pushes the three Gershwin Preludes in a heavily rhythmic direction. The whole thing is a mixed bag, it's true, but it shows the questing mind of a young artist who is hugely talented. Brava!

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Grand Fantasy on Porgy and Bess
1 Isata Kanneh-Mason 03:29 Amazon
2 Isata Kanneh-Mason 02:12 Amazon
3 Isata Kanneh-Mason 03:26 Amazon
Piano Sonata in E flat minor Op. 26
4 Isata Kanneh-Mason 07:08 Amazon
5 Isata Kanneh-Mason 02:06 Amazon
6 Isata Kanneh-Mason 05:23 Amazon
7 Isata Kanneh-Mason 04:36 Amazon
8 Isata Kanneh-Mason 03:16 Amazon
Three Preludes
9 Isata Kanneh-Mason 01:34 Amazon
10 Isata Kanneh-Mason 03:38 Amazon
11 Isata Kanneh-Mason 01:18 Amazon
12 Isata Kanneh-Mason 03:07 Amazon
13 Isata Kanneh-Mason 04:09 Amazon
14 Isata Kanneh-Mason 04:35 Amazon
24 Negro Melodies
15 Isata Kanneh-Mason 06:16 Amazon
16 Isata Kanneh-Mason 02:26 Amazon
17 Isata Kanneh-Mason 04:01 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick