Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) was a great figure in American music, not only because he was one of the earliest important composers of African descent, but because he was one the first composers to find their own voice by using American musical materials. Dett used Negro spirituals and spiritual-influenced musical themes. "My cup runneth over" quotes Psalm 23 - this psalm is the text for Dett's final piano piece, Madrigal Divine. Dett's own musical cup indeed was full.
His piano music not only reflects his genius for melody and harmony but also his wonderful sensitivity to pianistic color and beautiful sound. His works also express his interests in other cultures; ancient Hebrew legends, African chants, and Hindu poets all have a place in his creations. Particularly toward the end of his life, Dett’s music contains a narrative of human oneness, which speaks to people now with the same meaning and urgency that it did in his time.
Surely such an important composer should have all of his piano output represented on CD, but until now, there has not been no complete recording. For several years it has been my dream to realize this. The project is now in the final stages - half of his piano pieces (totalling more than 2 hours) have been mastered, and the final recording sessions are scheduled in late May. The fantastic acoustics and world class Hamburg Steinway at the Reitstadel in Neumarkt, Germany was my choice to give Dett’s music the full range of power, delicacy and color that it requires. Engineer Dirk Fischer and piano technician Leo Niedermeyer are first class in their fields. PARMA Recordings, with distribution through Naxos, will release the recordings in late 2015.
I have funded the recording process on my own, now I'm looking for partners in the wide Kickstarter community to help with the pressing, printing and marketing costs of this historic project. The more donors, the more I can do to make the final product attractive and informative. Kickstarter is a great way to get Dett's music out to listeners so this music can at last be widely known!
Risks and challenges
I have already funded the mastering of the recording myself. The project is already half complete. I have a signed contract with PARMA Recordings to release the 2 CD set. I've gone this far, join me in finishing the project!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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