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Catalyst Quartet - UNCOVERED Vol. 1 arrives with a bang / BLACK GROOVES

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Rowan University' Bret McCandless writes.........Great performances and recordings of their work can go a long way in helping solidify the reputation of any composer. The GRAMMY Award-winning Catalyst Quartet is working to use their immense talent to highlight chamber music by composers who may have been overlooked because of their race or gender with a new series of recordings, titled Uncovered. Volume One, featuring early works by Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, promises an exceptional project, bringing the incredible playing of a top-tier string quartet to finely selected repertoire.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor may not be a household name to some classical music fans, but in his lifetime he was highly regarded as a conductor and as the composer of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, one of the most performed choral works of the late nineteenth century. 

The first volume of Uncovered arrives with a bang in the first chords and confident opening theme of Coleridge-Taylor's Piano Quintet in G minor, op. 1, announcing that the works in the series demand to be heard. The first movement, Allegro con moto, is a sonata-form opening movement that introduces some of Coleridge-Taylor's signature sounds: a blend of seriousness and playfulness, immersion in Romantic harmony, and a fascination with alternating and layering duple and triple divisions of the beat. Throughout the quintet, Coleridge-Taylor pits the piano (helmed by the brilliant Stewart Goodyear) against the strings, alternating focus, while also creating a variety of textures and moods. The Larghetto is Chopinesque in its lyricism and chromaticism, with beautiful solo playing by Karla Donehew Perez on the violin and Karlos Rodriguez on the cello. The Scherzo is jolting with its rhythmic play. The closing movement opens in an uncertain meter and distant E-flat major, but quickly finds its way back to G minor and a race to the finish. This is the most exciting of the movements, with a miniature vivace fugue that shows off Coleridge-Taylor's counterpoint chops and ramps up tension to an exhilarating finish.

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