Hyperion’s record of the month for February is the fifth volume in our thrilling – and acclaimed – Romantic Violin Concerto series. Born in Croydon in 1875, the son of a Sierra Leone-born doctor and English mother, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s childhood was a tough one. Yet, aged 15, he entered the Royal College of Music and studied composition with Sir Charles Villiers Stanford. The interest generated by the music of ‘this new black Mahler’ soon put him on the musical map, Hiawatha's Wedding Feast being described as ‘one of the most remarkable events in modern English musical history’. In 1904, at a time when it was still extremely hard for black Americans to fulfil their cultural aspirations, he accepted an invitation to America and found himself hailed as an iconic figure. Throughout his short life he found his role as composer complemented by one as political activist fighting against racial prejudice. Coleridge-Taylor’s Violin Concerto is a highly attractive, captivating work. Comparable in sound with the violin works of Dvooák and Elgar, this piece is piled high with memorable tunes and melodies. Arthur Somervell is best known today as a composer of songs. Very much a ‘child of his time’, he was taught by Stanford and Parry, and served for many years as Inspector of Music to the Board of Education. The Violin Concerto is his last extended work and was written in 1930. Heart-warming and pastoral, this is the concerto’s first recording.
CLASSIC FM: CD OF THE WEEK
'if Anthony Marwood, Martyn Brabbins and the Scottish players learnt the works especially for this recording, then they've utterly fooled me. Totally at one with the idiom, Marwood's unflashy, sweet-toned playing lends just the right note of enchantment and authenticity to these forgotten scores. In short, this is Hyperion at its best' (Gramophone)
'Anthony Marwood is absolutely reliable in rhythm as well as pitching, though he still loosens up at appropriate moments; and Marwood's faster tempo for the slow movement, and more relaxed speeds for the finale, bring out more of their charm … Marwood is again the complete virtuoso in another assured and enjoyable performance' (BBC Music Magazine)
'For those who might prefer to hear reflections on the violin by a less frequently heard composer to discovering yet another violinist's attempt to comb out detail to personalize a war-horse recorded a hundred times over, Hyperion's series, and this installment in particular, should be especially welcome; for others, it could serve as evidence of highly intelligent life beyond the standard repertoire. Warmly recommended to listeners of all types' (Fanfare, USA)
Recording details: February 2004; Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh, United Kingdom; Produced by Andrew Keener; Engineered by Simon Eadon; Release date: February 2005;