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Samuel COLERIDGE-TAYLOR (1875-1912)
Légende (Concertstück) Op. 14 (1897) [7:12]
Romance in G Op. 39 (1899) [9:35]
Violin Concerto in G minor Op. 80 (1912) [32:53]
Julius HARRISON (1885-1963)

Bredon Hill - a rhapsody for violin and orchestra (1941) [11:54]
Lorraine McAslan (violin)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
rec. Watford Town Hall, 10-12 January 1994, (Légende, Concerto, Bredon); 20 January 1994 (Romance). DDD
LYRITA SRCD.317 [61.37]

Experience Classicsonline



The Anglo-African composer Coleridge-Taylor was once famed throughout England for his work Hiawatha – this alone of his many popular compositions received performances at the Royal Albert Hall every single year without fail between 1924 and the start of the war in 1939. Alas, this under-rated composer is now one of a plethora who have fallen from favour and recognition.

Coleridge-Taylor studied at the Royal College of Music under Sir Charles Villiers Stanford - the first work on this disc, the Legend, dates from this period - and was first conducted by Stanford. It is a lush and romantic piece, extremely well performed, and is followed by a tender rendition of the Romance of two years later.

The main work on the disc is the Violin Concerto. This was commissioned by an American philanthropist who had started up a music festival in Connecticut, in which several of Coleridge-Taylor’s works had been performed. The philanthropist had wanted some old American tunes included in the concerto, but was dissatisfied with the end result; Coleridge-Taylor obliged by incorporating the spiritual Many Thousands Gone, and also Yankee Doodle in the concerto. Coleridge-Taylor admitted this didn’t really work and consequently re-wrote the entire concerto. The premiere of the new version was given back at the music festival in Connecticut – but only just, since the score and parts had been sent over on the fateful voyage of the Titanic and replacement parts only just reached the players in time! The opening movement is soulful and dramatic, Lorraine McAslan invests the second with a wistful air, and the work concludes with a spectacular Finale, the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Nicholas Braithwaite, and McAslan putting heart and soul into the music.

Julius Harrison’s career focused on conducting, despite the fact that he won a prize for his cantata Cleopatra in his early twenties. He resuming composition when deafness heralded the end of his conducting, and then he completed works such as a Mass and a Requiem. Bredon Hill was written in 1941 and the score was prefaced by Housman’s famous lines "Here of a Sunday morning …". It is beautifully played by McAslan, who invests it with great lyricism, sweetness and intensity. The bells at the end are particularly effective and moving. On the whole, it is evocative and nostalgic music - very much "of its time", but in the best possible way, epitomising the charm of the period beautifully, and it is excellently orchestrated. McAslan plays with a lovely light touch whilst maintaining a rich and warm tone. (see John France’s article about Harrison and Bredon Hill)

Excellent performances of works that are well worth hearing. Good old Lyrita!

Em Marshall


See also reviews by John France and Rob Barnett




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