The just released ALTO collection of music by Samuel Coleridge Taylor includes the Petite Suite de Concert, which the American pianist Virginia Eskin delivers in a perfectly executed performance of its four sections, all the while sustaining the interest of the listener through twelve minutes replete with melodic inventiveness.

Eskin is joined by violinist Michael Ludwig in a sensitively played Ballade in D minor, an early work of the immensely gifted Samuel Coleridge Taylor.

Selected from the 24 Negro Melodies, Op. 45 the ALTO release includes six American negro spirituals and songs, among them a lovely Deep River and a touching Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child, both played with intense emotion by Virginia Eskin.

The Clarinet Quintet in A Major, Op. 10, structured in four movements, rewards the listener with well over half an hour of flawless playing by clarinetist Harold Wright, kept company by the excellent Hawthorne String Quartet, whose integrating artists: violinists Ronan Lefkowitz & Si-Jing Huang, violist Mark Ludwig, and cellist Sato Knudson, cello join Wright in bringing to life a very fine work by the much-neglected Samuel Coleridge Taylor.

Taylor’s passing deprived the world of an immensely- gifted creative artist who undeservedly snubbed or worse, ignored by the musical world of Edwardian England had nevertheless begun to make a mark on European concert music when pneumonia brought about by overwork felled him at the age of 25.

ALTO continues its praise-worthy mission to remaster and bring back to the listening public rare and invaluable recordings made decades ago – 1990 in this case and issued as a Koch International Classic in 1992. The Digital edition mastered by Gene Gaudette is exemplary in its clarity and immediacy. The insightful liner notes by Virginia Eskin reveal to some of us who have been largely ignorant of the importance of Samuel Coleridge Taylor (1885-1912) to English post-Romantic music.

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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