Coleridge-Taylor & Somervell: Violin Concertos

Coleridge-Taylor & Somervell: Violin Concertos

Anthony Marwood (violin), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Martyn Brabbins (conductor)


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 Dvořák 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.

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