Nasty Women: Piano Music from the Age of Women’s Suffrage | Centaur Records CRC3631

Nasty Women: Piano Music from the Age of Women’s Suffrage


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Label: Centaur Records

Cat No: CRC3631

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Instrumental

Release Date: 22nd February 2019



Nasty Women is an album of piano music from the age of women’s suffrage in the United States, researched and performed by Joanna Goldstein. This album includes works from many of the greatest women composers for piano from the first part of the 20th century including Amy Beach, Ethel Hier, Frances Marion Ralston, Florence Price, Ulric Cole and many others.

Even though the album title Nasty Women is derived from the contentious U.S. presidential election of 2016, Joanna Goldstein’s 2018 release on Centaur is a survey of piano music from the era of women’s suffrage a century earlier. More specifically, it brings together short piano pieces by female composers who participated in a music conference held in April 1925 in Washington, D.C., five years after the passage of the 19th Amendment.

The programme opens with a block of single pieces that span the period, from Virginia Roper’s 1906 composition, In Venezia, to Florence Price’s Fantasie Negre from 1929, grouped with works by Clara Gottschalk-Peterson, Mary Howe, Harriet Ware, Julia Niebergall, May Aufderheide, and Gena Branscombe, showing a range of styles from ragtime to parlor miniatures. The programme offers more substantial coverage of Frances Marion Ralston, Ethel Glenn Hier, Amy Beach, Ulric Cole, and Mana-Zucca (Gisella Zuckerman).

Of these composers, Amy Beach is the best-remembered for her prolific output, and she is represented by two character pieces, A Hermit Thrush at Eve and A Hermit Thrush at Morn, both drawing on the late Romantic style. A standout selection is Dana Suesse’s Afternoon of a Black Faun from 1938, where she blended classical and jazz elements with a sophistication likely acquired from her famous teacher, Nadia Boulanger. Goldstein’s performances are sensitive and at times sentimental, as befits much music of the fin de siècle, with the exception of the rags that receive a jauntier treatment.

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