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The excellently crafted material on Catalyst Quartet - UNCOVERED Vol. 1 is so enticing. Music of much appeal / textura

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textura writes.....In this first of a projected three-volume series, Catalyst Quartet (violinists Karla Donehew Perez and Jessie Montgomery, violist Paul Laraia, cellist Karlos Rodriguez) performs three works by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), an Afro-British composer who, despite achieving great success in his lifetime (his three cantatas on Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha in particular), is hardly a household name today. As Laraia notes, "He was fascinated by the musical traditions of the American Spiritual, and sought to incorporate them into the classical tradition in the manner of Brahms with Hungarian music and Dvorák with Bohemian music." Not surprisingly, evidence of that fascination is clearly audible on the release, which the quartet recorded at Sauder Concert Hall in Goshen, Indiana in July 2019.

Coleridge-Taylor's story dovetails neatly with the UNCOVERED project, which was created to celebrate works by artists whose names have undeservedly faded, largely because of race and/or gender. To that end, the second volume will feature works by Florence Price and the third Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still, George Walker, and others. The excellently crafted material on the first volume is so enticing, one can't help but wonder how music of such appeal could have lapsed into obscurity. One reason, of course, is simply because recordings and performances of Coleridge-Taylor's works are rare if even available, and Catalyst Quartet is therefore doing its part to rescue his tonal music from the dustbin of history.

To be clear, Coleridge-Taylor was no radical or experimentalist: these works don't boldly stray from the conventions of quartet and quintet pieces in structure and form. That they didn't change the course of classical music history doesn't mean, however, they don't deserve a place at the repertoire table. The recording convincingly argues that all three works are capable of captivating the listener, whether that be at home or in the concert hall.

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