Simon Callaghan plays Roger Sacheverell Coke

Pianist Simon Callaghan plays 24 Preludes, 15 Variations and Finale

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COMPOSERS: Sacheverell Coke
ALBUM TITLE: Roger Sacheverell Coke
WORKS: 24 Preludes, 15 Variations and Finale
PERFORMER: Simon Callaghan


Has Roger Sacheverell Coke’s time come? It didn’t come in 1959, when dismissive reviews of his opera The Cenci swept this wealthy, modestly obscure British composer, already of fragile health, into a deep depression. He died in 1972, 60 years old, just one of many post-Romantics cast aside by changing fashion.


His 24 Preludes’ style and manner is soaked in the Romantic piano tradition (Rachmaninov uppermost), yet harmonic twists and an obsessive repetitions of melody and rhythmic motifs point to an individual personality, if one existing in a very small world. Slow speeds and a mood of sad nostalgia dominate, but Simon Callaghan’s supple and sympathetic playing help keep the listener’s spirits alert. Unfortunately, the variation set doesn’t plead Coke’s case nearly as well. The theme, his own, is not very appealing, and the frustration stirred by its clinging variations might be recognised by a dog kept on a short leash. Callaghan here is powerless to intervene. Geoff Brown