Sunday, January 9, 2022 Edusei makes worthy DSO debut with glimmering Ravel, Coleridge-Taylor rarity [Violin Concerto in G minor]

Kevin John Edusei
(Photo: Marco Borggreve)

January 8, 2022

by J. Robin Coffelt

Kevin John Edusei is a new face for most local concertgoers. But soon he will be a familiar one: last month, the Fort Worth Symphony named him their new principal guest conductor, effective next season. 

Yet on Friday night, the German-Ghanaian conductor made his Dallas Symphony Orchestra debut, leading a program of familiar favorites by Maurice Ravel with a somewhat incongruous rarity, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Violin Concerto. 


The tall, angular Edusei has a distinctive but not overly theatrical podium presence, with a clear downbeat. His restrained approach produced generally pleasing results from the orchestra.


The sole not-Ravel piece on the program, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Violin Concerto in G minor, was another animal entirely. 

Coleridge-Taylor was a biracial Englishman who was simultaneously fêted for his musical gifts and marginalized because of his African heritage. His best-known piece, a cantata called Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, was positively evaluated by none other than Sir Arthur Sullivan, who wrote that he was “impressed” by the young composer’s work, and it garnered Coleridge-Taylor considerable fame.

Coleridge-Taylor died in 1912, when he was just 37. His early stardom dimmed considerably after his death, but he has experienced a resurgence of interest in the past few years. 

The Violin Concerto, his final major work, is Romantic in style, with listeners comparing it variously to Elgar or Vaughan-Williams. While the themes are largely forgettable, it has merit as a late Romantic showpiece for violin that isn’t an over-played warhorse. 

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