Coleridge TaylorSomervell

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Coleridge TaylorSomervell
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Coleridge Taylor & Somervell
WORKS: Violin concerto in G minor
PERFORMER: Anthony Marwood
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Martyn Brabbins
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-


1912) wrote his only concerto

for violin, his own instrument, in

1912, shortly before his death at

the age of 37. Its dedicatee, the

violinist Maud Powell, described

the composer as ‘the Negro

Dvo?ák’; and Dvo?ák certainly

hovers in the background of the

work, not least in the strong

opening melody, self-contained

but asymmetrical, and in the lovely

moonlit slow movement.

This new recording in

Hyperion’s ‘Romantic Violin

Concerto’ series is generally an

improvement on Avie’s premiere

recording (reviewed June 2004).

Where Avie’s soloist, Philippe

Graffin, is sometimes slack in

rhythm, leading to poor coordination

with the orchestra,

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. Moreover,

while Graffin’s silvery tone

sometimes disappears beneath the

weighty orchestra, Hyperion’s

balance keeps the soloist to the fore,

albeit at the cost of relegating the

wind to the distance.

A further plus for the Hyperion

is the coupling: while there’s logic

to Avie’s choice of the Dvo?ák

Concerto, collectors may well

prefer another rarity, the first

recording of Arthur Somervell’s

1930 Concerto. Here the

background eminence is Brahms,

whose large-scale formal schemes

and developmental methods are

applied to some attractive melodies

with a tinge of English folksong

– and, in the final rondo, of an all

too hearty drawing-room ballad.

Marwood is again the complete

virtuoso in another assured and

enjoyable performance.


Anthony Burton