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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world. To listen to KPAC 88.3 FM, simply open the player in the gray ribbon at the top of this page and choose KPAC: Classical Music.

Isata Kanneh-Mason, 'Deep River'

Pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, one of seven musical siblings, has just released <em>Romance</em>, her debut album.
Robin Clewley
/
Decca Records
Pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason.

"Deep River," the beloved spiritual, gets heard in strikingly diverse settings – from a swing version recorded by Tommy Dorsey in 1941 to an operatic performance at the memorial of Ruth Bader Ginsberg last year. For this new recording by the rising young British pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, the backdrop is Sierra Leone. That's where her mother is from, as was the father of the mixed race composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, who published this arrangement in 1905. Kanneh-Mason says she feels a familial connection to the music. You can hear the water lapping at river's edge in the gently rolled opening chords. In exploring her musical roots, as it were, Kanneh-Mason offers the arc of Coleridge-Taylor's cinematic drama while tapping into the song's inherent melancholy and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

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