Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Recordings of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Violin Concerto in G Minor, Op. 80

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Violin Concerto in G Minor, Op. 80; Philippe Graffin, violin; Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra; Michael Hankinson, conductor; Avie AV0044 (2004)]

Mike S. Wright, Chair of the International Society for African to American Music:

First we had a recording of this magnificent concerto by Philippe Graffin and the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra under Michael Hankinson. this was the first recording of this unjustly neglected recording. Graffin's playing is good but the ensemble of the JPO spoiled things. The coupling of this and the Dvorak concerto served to illustrate certain similarities, particularly in the last movement. This was the first ever released recording of the C-T concerto.

Secondly, we had Anthony Marwood's recording with the Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins. Here we have a lovely ensemble and a well committed if understated performance that begins to show what a fine concerto this is. The second movement, in particular showed real shine. It was just a pity that the recording engineers had not quite got things perfect. Marwood also performed this concerto with the BBC Concert Orchestra in the 2007 Proms - again rather understated - leaving me with the view that the definitive performance of this work was still awaited.

Now we have the recording by Lorraine McAslan with London Philharmonic Orchestra under Nicholas Braithwaite complete with C-T's Legend and Romance as worthy bonus material. This was in fact the first ever recording which was a victim of Lyrita's long hibernation and what a recording it is! I am reminded of violinists of the Heifetz, Kaufman, Stern generation. The sound quality is superb and McAslan must have established this concerto as a 'mainstream' British concerto to rub shoulders with those of Elgar and Walton.

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is profiled at AfriClassical.com]

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