LUMINOUSMusic for Solo Piano
Johannes Brahms-Bach, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Ulysses Kay, Nnenna Ogwo, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson
NNENNA OGWO, piano
Look and Listen to Nnenna: The Piano Pod | Season 4, Episode 2
"Works by [Coleridge-Taylor] are quite often performed these days, especially in the UK. He composed in a romantic idiom and was a talented melodist, sometimes sounding like Dvorak. The quality of his compositions is variable, but these piano pieces, which I had not encountered previously, are among the best. Their melodies come from various sources, and they are enveloped in beautiful harmonies... Ogwo’s own brief `Benediction’ starts with a melody that is then elaborated in a tonal style. She plays everything with dedication and precision, and the recorded sound is good. This is an enjoyable recording.
It is also educational, especially for a white European elitist immigrant like me."
Repp, American Record Guide [November/December 2023]
"Nnenna Ogwo plays throughout with the utmost sympathy for the repertoire, keen technical assurance, a singing tone, and, above all luminous poetry... the beauty of Ogwo’s playing in [the Bach/Brahms Chaconne] counts for a great deal. Lovely program notes are provided by the artist. Recommended."
Ken Meltzer, Fanfare [January/February 2024]
"An American pianist of Caribbean and African descent, Nnenna Ogwo has put together an album that is refreshing and stimulating, featuring a program that is somewhat off the beaten path yet comfortable and eminently listenable, an album that can be enjoyed by a wide variety of music lovers. Much of the reason that Luminous is such an accessible release is that it is a deeply personal release... Ms. Ogwo has delivered an album that is well worth a listen."
Karl Nehring, Classical Candor [September 2023]
"The works played by pianist Nnenna Ogwo on an MSR Classics release are mostly brief, but they cover a wide emotional range... Ogwo’s inclusion of [the Brahms] with so many smaller and less ambitious ones is somewhat curious, although she plays [it] with the same attentiveness and focus on detail that she brings to rest of the music here... [The CD] displays Ogwo’s performance skill throughout."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [September 2023]
“Luminous” is quite obviously a labor of love for Nnenna Ogwo. As an American pianist and composer of Caribbean and African descent, she is keenly aware of her cultural heritage and her own desire to share it with us. With few exceptions, most of the delicious music written and arranged for piano and heard on this album was completely unknown to me, a fact that made my listening pleasure all the greater... Ogwo follows [the Ulysses Kay piece] with her own eloquent Benediction... As she does elsewhere in the course of an inspired recital, Nnenna Ogwo puts her all into this Brahms-Bach Chaconne. And as elsewhere in this album, the rewards are not slow in coming... For an artist of Nnenna’s calibre, communication with her listeners such as she displays here is no problem!"
Phil Muse, Atlanta Audio Club [October 2023]
PROGRAM NOTESLuminous is an album of music featuring works by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Ulysses Kay, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Nnenna Ogwo and Bach-Brahms. This music covers a broad range of styles and structures; the slick counterpoint of Perkinson’s Toccata; Coleridge Taylor’s musical exploration of his own cultural identity; the brief improvisation on a fragment by Ogwo; the revelation of Kay’s compositional practice as demonstrated in his Eight Inventions and Brahms’ transcendent transcription of the Bach Chaconne in D minor for violin. The program has all the elements of music that bring the art to such vibrant life; joy and pain, song and dance, the substantive and the ephemeral. This album is the utterance that I could not make when my mother left this plane of existence. It is music that she loved or that I know she would have loved. It is a curation that reflects my cultural heritage, my personal history at the instrument and the depth of my love and admiration for her. I hope it speaks to you. - Nnenna
An American pianist of Caribbean and African descent, Nnenna Ogwo began playing the piano at an early age, studying at the Peabody Conservatory Preparatory in Baltimore, Maryland, and graduating with honors in piano and composition. She continued her studies at Oberlin Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio; the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary; and Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. Dr. Ogwo has performed in Europe, the Middle East, South America, the Caribbean and the United States. In 2019, she founded Juneteenth LP, a music collective whose mission is to share the music of the African Diaspora through the unique lens of Black classically trained musicians. Dr. Ogwo has served as the Executive and Artistic Director since its inception. A concert pianist, chamber musician, educator and scholar, she currently maintains a private studio in New York City and is engaged in archival research on African Diaspora classical composers. Ogwo regularly gives concerts, masterclasses, lecture-recitals and clinics on Black classical composers at universities and music schools across the country.
[ www.nnenna.net ]
PROGRAMCOLERIDGE-TAYLOR PERKINSON (1932-2004)
SAMUEL COLERIDGE-TAYLOR (1875-1912)
24 NEGRO MELODIES, OP.59
No.1 – At the Dawn of the Day
No.3 – Take Nabandji
No.4 – They Would Not Lend Me A Child
No.8 – The Bamboula
No.12 – Don’t Be Weary, Traveler
No.13 – Going Up
ULYSSES KAY (1917-1995)
NNENNA OGWO (b.1970)
JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897)
CHACONNE (from J.S. Bach’s Violin Partita No.2, BWV 1004)
Arranged for the left hand alone