Friday, March 28, 2014

IDIS Releases Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's 'Hiawatha's Wedding Feast' in 1962 Performance of Philharmonia Orchestra, Conducted by Malcolm Sargent


IDIS 66722

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) is profiled at AfriClassical.com, which features a comprehensive Works List and a Bibliography by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, www.CasaMusicaledeLerma.com. We are collaborating with the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation of the U.K., www.SCTF.org.uk]

The Philharmonia Orchestra, tenor Richard Lewis
and the Royal Choral Society made a studio
recording of Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast under the
direction of Sir Malcolm Sargent in 1962.  Two
historical recordings of the performance were
released in 2013.  The present release is Sir
Malcolm Sargent Conducts Coleridge-Taylor, 
IDIS 6672.  Heritage Records published
The Music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Heritage
CD 249, which includes three other compositions
of Coleridge-Taylor as well.  

The liner notes are by Gavin Dixon © 2013, who 
writes “The score of Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast 
was published in advance of its premiere, 
generating great interest in the event, which took 
place at the Royal College of Music conducted by 
Stanford.”  ‘The cantata is based on Henry 
Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of 
Hiawatha.”  “Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast” was soon 
being performed around the world.  The work 
proved ideal for amateur choral societies, and 
within six years the cantata had received over 200 
performances in England alone.  From the 1920s, it 
was staged regularly in a ballet version at the Royal 
Albert Hall.  The first of these performances took 
place in 1924, conducted by Hiawatha Coleridge-Taylor, the composer’s son.  In 1928, the baton 
passed to Malcolm Sargent, who presented it in two-week runs every year until the Second World War.  
Sargent became so closely associated with the work, 
that one of his biographers named a chapter on the 
conductor’s activities in this period “The Wigwam 
Years.”

The IDIS recording divides the work into four sections: 
1. Introduction - You Shall Hear (8:43); 2. He was 
dressed in shirt (8:34); 3. Onaway!  Awake, beloved! 
(5:39); 4. Thus the gentle Chibiabos (8:34).  
RateYourMusic.com reports that IDIS stands for “Istituto 
Discografico Italiano - An imprint of Dynamic
specializing in digital remasterings of historical 
recordings.” 

HBDirect.com writes: “In 1962 in recognition 
of the 50th anniversary of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's death, Sir Malcolm Sargent recorded 
his Songs of Hiawatha, considered a milestone in 
English choral music. Also included on this 
recording are the Symphonic Variations of 
Antonín Dvorák recorded in 1959. Gary Lemco 
reviewed the IDIS recording for Audiophile 
Audition, which published the piece on December 
18, 2013. He summarized his review as follows: 
“The combination of two vintage Malcolm Sargent 
performances reminds us of his gift for choral and 
instrumental composition.”  Lemco says of the 
tenor: “Lewis is in clear, resonant voice, his calling-card that made him a favorite of conductors like 
Beecham and Reiner.”  

The Lemco review says of the Dvorak work: “Dvorak 
composed his Symphonic Variations between August 
and September 1877, and he quickly sent the score 
to Hans Richter who declared it an immediate success. 
Brahms, after having heard the score, presented 
Dvorak with the gift of a new cigar-holder.”

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's “Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast” 
is a very appealing work which holds up well to repeated
 hearings.  We are also enjoying this fine performance 
of Dvorak’ s Symphonic Variationswhich is a welcome 
addition to our Dvorak collection.

Disclosure: A review copy of this recording was provided 
by the record label.

Comment by email:

During 2003 Black History Month, I produced “An Evening of Grace & Style” at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The program included music of composers William Grant Still, Ed Bland, Barbara Sherrill, Margaret Bonds, and the piano reduction of 'Hiawatha's Wedding Feast'  by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor under the direction of choral director Barbara Sherrill with Dr. Hansonia Caldwell as pianist. I look forward to the orchestral recording of this wonderful music. John Malveaux

1 comment:

Barbara G. Sherrill said...

Thank you for your comment and remembrance, Mr. Malveaux.
This recording was also a part of the Black composers' series that was brought forth by Paul Freeman in the 1970's. So glad to see it is being re-released! In the 1980's we also performed "Hiawatha's Departure" with chorus and full orchestra. It is an equally intriguing work-and the third of the trilogy by Mr. Coleridge-Taylor.
The second in that trilogy, "The Death of Minnehaha," does not seem to have been done in our lifetime; but in Mr. Coleridge-Taylor's time---that is to say shortly after he composed the three, all three were sometimes presented on the same program.
This recording By Sir Malcolm Sargent is so worth having.