Monday, January 7, 2008

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Violin Concerto in G Minor, Op. 80 on Lyrita CD

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Légende (Concertstück) Op. 14 (7:12); Romance in G Op. 39 (9:35); Violin Concerto in G Minor Op. 80 (32:53); Lorraine McAslan, violin; London Philharmonic Orchestra; Nicholas Braithwaite, conductor; Lyrita SRCD.317 (2008)]

Excerpts from the Review of Rob Barnett of

There are firstly two short pieces by Coleridge-Taylor. They are sweet yet substantial - the equivalent in style and effect to Dvořák's Romance for violin and orchestra or Svendsen’s Romance or Sibelius’s Serenades. These are bonbons which coax and calm. After the 1897 Légende comes the 1899 Romance.”

Coleridge-Taylor's Violin Concerto has now been recorded three times. Even though McAslan was recorded long before the Avie and Hyperion discs, Lyrita's long hibernation meant that it was the last to be issued. In summary this is the grandest and most monumental of the three recordings. Listen to the way she takes the theme with such deliberation at 2:03 in the first movement. McAslan played this on the BBC at about the same time the recording was made.

The premiere of the concerto was given by Maud Powell in 1912 in the USA after the full score and parts sank with the Titanic. This is a concerto written in direct succession to the Dvorak Violin Concerto and I would say just as good … maybe better. It's not a 'big boy' concerto like the Elgar nor is it a shallow dazzle vehicle. While it is not short of virtuosic demands its emphasis is on a certain grandeur of cantabile spirit. There are two expansive outer movements and an almost sentimental central andante semplice whose moonlit violins have never been as well caught as they are here by the LPO's strings. Every one of the movements has a memorable melody at its core and breathtaking treatment and orchestration - listen to the yawning Tchaikovskian majesty that lifts the andante at 3:54. Tchaikovsky enters again in the bubbling woodwind subsidiaries of the finale at 5:08. The finale uses a lively melody that radiates both happiness and intelligence - the Dvorak may well have served as a model but I also thought of Delius's Florida Suite as well.”

The Coleridge-Taylor concerto is a real feel-good work and deserves to travel far and wide. The whole disc has a life-enhancing glow about it and is an object lesson in natural breathing digital sound.”

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is profiled at]

Samuel+Coleridge-Taylor" rel="tag">Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Violin+Concerto" rel="tag">Violin Concerto
classical+music" rel="tag">classical music
Afro-British+Composer" rel="tag">Afro-British Composer
Black+Composer" rel="tag">Black Composer
Lorraine+McAslan" rel="tag">Lorraine McAslan

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