Search This Blog

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Hiawatha Overture, Petite Suite, RTE Concert Orchestra, Adrian Leper


Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)? It is a name so distinctive you feel as if you already know him. Well I've heard a work or two but do not really, until now and an orchestral anthology that includes Hiawatha Overture, Petite Suite (Naxos 8.556191). It is a considerable sampling that embraces some six works, performed ably and spiritedly by the RTE Concert Orchestra under Adrian Leaper.

Coleridge-Taylor was British, born of mixed descent. Wikipedia tells us he was best known for three  Cantatas based upon the poem "The Song of Hiawatha." They also mention that, thanks to his tours of the USA, he was sometimes known there  as "The African Mahler." If all that doesn't get your attention, it should.

The news on my end is that this Naxos disk gives us a thorough introduction to his music, Late Romantic certainly, but not really sounding like Mahler or anyone else for the most part. His thematic development sometimes seems less of a long-winded later melodist than a more succinct lyricist. His orchestrations sound rather fully expansive in that later mode, but he remains his own person stylistically. All that serves to distinguish him on this program, such that one feels in a rather different world, not all that far from Elgar as much as Mahler. perhaps somewhere in between or just not entirely or easily compared. Every so often, one remembers Delius and his lyric thrust. So all that is a good thing of course.

So coming out of multiple listens here I must say this is music well worth hearing and having. This is one of those programs that to me benefits most from its actual hearing. I could describe things about all six works but you are better off giving it your own set of ears, I think.

So for the record we get to hear the Overture from "The Song of Hiawatha" (1899), the "Petite Suite de Concert" (1910), the "4 Characteristic Waltzes" (1898), the "Gipsy Suite" as arranged by Artock (1927), the "Romance of the Prarie Lillies" as arranged by Fletcher (1931) and finally the "Othello Suite" (1909).

Something that is decidedly "something different" is a good thing. In terms of compositions and performance that is true in every way. I recommend it.

No comments:

Post a Comment