CD Spotlight: Coleridge-Taylor by Chineke! Orchestra
Chineke! Orchestra and violinist Elena Urioste return to our CD Spotlight after their enthralling performance on Max Richter’s Vivaldi Recomposed. This time around, Europe's first professional majority Black and ethnically-diverse orchestra celebrates African-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor in a double CD of his works, including a piece by his daughter Avril Coleridge-Taylor.
At the heart of the release is Coleridge-Taylor’s Violin Concerto, a work he wrote for American violinist Maude Powell. He finished the work, then sent the parts off to America on the Titanic. When, of course, the concerto never arrived, Coleridge-Taylor had to quickly reconstruct it from memory. And while the concerto did eventually reach our shores, Coleridge-Taylor never heard it played; a portrait of him sat on the stage for the American performance, and the British premiere happened a month after he died. A curious side note: the concerto contained several spirituals, including “Keep Me from Sinking Down.”
In addition to the concerto, the CD has pieces that may be known to our listeners, including the robust Ballade in A-minor, his African Suite, inspired by the poetry of American Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and the rarely performed Nonet. There are five conductors, including the Gateways Music Festival maestro, Anthony Parnther, who leads the orchestra through shimmering reading of the Petite Suite de Concert. Avril Coleridge-Taylor’s tone poem, Sussex Landscape, is a broodingly wonderful, reminiscent of Vaughan Williams at his most pastoral.
As we near the holiday season, you might put this on your gift list. It is a worthy and wonderful account of a composer we lost far too soon.