Catalyst Quartet – Uncovered, Vol. 1: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:18:05 minutes | 1,3 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Azica Records
Over the course of time there have been many overlooked artists in classical music, because of their race and/or gender. It is important to acknowledge that we have not yet heard the whole story due to this sidelining of voices. Composers Joseph Boulogne Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, William Grant Still, Florence B. Price, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, and George Walker, have all contributed beautifully crafted works to the repertoire, but are not widely celebrated. Another contributing factor to this unfortunate reality is access to their manuscripts and recordings of their work which we believe would lead to greater awareness and programming of their incredible music.
UNCOVERED, concieved in 2018, is an ongoing performance and muti-volume anthology recorded on the Azica label. Vol. 1, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor with guest collaborators Stewart Goodyear (piano) and Anthony McGill (clarinet), releases on February 5th, 2021. Vol. 2 is devoted to Florence B. Price and future volumes will include Joseph Boulogne Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still, and George Walker.
With this release, the Catalyst Quartet launches the “Uncovered” series, devoted to unjustly neglected works by Black composers. The group begins with Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), who a century ago would probably have been the best known of the group, with his cantatas on Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha widely performed and supported by the British musical establishment. Coleridge-Taylor’s chamber music dates from early in his career before he traveled to the U.S. and began to investigate his African American roots, and to a degree, the works here have the flavor of student compositions, most of all the opening Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 1. All of the pieces show Dvořák as a model, and the most persuasive is the set of Five Fantasiestücke for string quartet, Op. 5, adept and thoroughly enjoyable extensions of the fantastic element in the Czech composer’s music. The music certainly makes one regret Coleridge-Taylor’s early death, probably the result of financial difficulties, and it also whets the appetite for future releases in the Catalyst’s series; the performances, especially by clarinetist Anthony McGill in the Clarinet Quintet in F sharp minor, Op. 10, are very strong. The Clarinet Quintet also shows the influence of Brahms, whom Coleridge-Taylor’s teacher, Charles Villiers Stanford, challenged him to emulate and even exceed (“You’ve done it, me boy!” Stanford exclaimed for his part). Azica errs with a rather harsh college concert hall sound, but this release more than accomplishes what it sets out to do. Volume 2 will be devoted to Florence Price, a composer in dire need of wider exposure.
1. Catalyst Quartet – I. Allegro con moto
2. Catalyst Quartet – II. Larghetto
3. Catalyst Quartet – III. Scherzo
4. Catalyst Quartet – IV. Allegro molto
5. Catalyst Quartet – No. 1, Prelude
6. Catalyst Quartet – No. 2, Serenade
7. Catalyst Quartet – No. 3, Humoresque
8. Catalyst Quartet – No. 4, Minuet & Trio
9. Catalyst Quartet – No. 5, Dance
10. Catalyst Quartet – I. Allegro energico
11. Catalyst Quartet – II. Larghetto affettuoso
12. Catalyst Quartet – III. Scherzo
13. Catalyst Quartet – IV. Finale