William Grant Still is not new to this series, but the goal is to highlight music as well as composers, and to just hear one work by a composer and then move on forever seems…well, weird, doesn’t it? So let’s get back to Still, one of the most notable Black composers in the repertoire. Still (1895-1978) had a lush, Romantic style that nevertheless displays a lot of influences, among them the Negro spirituals of his ancestors.
This piece is a string quartet (although I have discovered that it can also be performed by a quartet of clarinets or saxiphones), called the Lyric Quartette. In this work, which in my ears summons up hints of Copland and Debussy, Still depicts three of his friends in descriptive terms: the first movement is “The Sentimental One”, the second is “The Quiet One”, and the concluding third movement is “The Jovial One”. All those descriptors do apply to the music, which is introspective and at times meditative. This is a beautiful work. Enjoy!
Here is the Lyric Quartette by William Grant Still.