Coleridge-Taylor: Violin Sonata in D minor; African Dances; Hiawathan Sketches; Petite suite de concert

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COMPOSERS: Coleridge-Taylor
LABELS: Dutton Epoch
WORKS: Violin Sonata in D minor; African Dances; Hiawathan Sketches; Petite suite de concert
PERFORMER: David Juritz (violin)Michael Dussek (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDLX 7127
While this latest instalment in Dutton’s increasingly valuable series of neglected English chamber music doesn’t contain any forgotten masterpieces, it is an agreeable reminder of the work of a major talent cut short. The best (and best-known) work on the disc, the Petite suite, was hugely popular in the composer’s lifetime (1875-1912), especially its second movement ‘Demande et réponse’. It is good to hear it played in this arrangement, more effective, to these ears, than in its original orchestral guise.

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The Sonata, written in 1897, has been recorded once before in the early days of 78s by Arthur Catterall and William Murdoch. Though lasting over 25 minutes, with some attractive effects (especially in the second movement) and catchy motifs, it is not a tremendously distinguished work begging to be admitted into the regular repertoire. The four African Dances don’t get much further south than the Brighton Pavilion, while the Hiawathan Sketches are three attractive salon works which disappointingly, despite pre-dating Coleridge-Taylor’s greatest work, do not actually share any music with Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast.

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The playing is pleasant and sure-footed but I should have preferred the violin to have been more closely integrated with the warmly recorded piano. Lewis Foreman provides his customary exemplary booklet notes. Jeremy Nicholas