- Quintet for clarinet & strings in F sharp Minor, Op 10
- African Dances (4), for violin & piano, Op. 58
- Nonet in F minor, Op.2
In the brief 37 years given to him, English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor produced an impressive wealth of entries in the category of chamber music, although you'd never know it from the extent to which it has been recorded. Centaur Records steps into the breach with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Chamber Music, which is performed by a loose coalition of musicians mostly associated with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Top billing is accorded to clarinetist Kelly Burke and violinist John Fadial, but all of the players here are splendid; some of the best classical chamber instrumentalists to be found in the American South. Of the three works found here, the "Four African Dances, Op. 58," and the "Nonet in F minor, Op. 2," had been recorded one time apiece, and the "Quintet in F sharp minor, Op. 10," appears here for the first time anywhere. Coleridge-Taylor was a student and devotee of Charles Stanford and his music is often compared to that of Elgar. While the typical concern for structural integrity is carried over by Coleridge-Taylor from these older masters into his own work, there the similarity ends. Coleridge-Taylor's music has a folk-like quality that is immediately appealing yet hard to pin down; it is not obviously derived from any specific folk music, but seems to combine melodic ideas from a wealthy spring of varied interests. Nor is it diffuse or discursive -- Coleridge-Taylor's music is solid as a rock. This recording, made in the UNCG School of Music Recital Hall, provides a warm and rich ambience to the larger works -- the "Nonet" sounds particularly good, almost orchestral in its sonic profile. The hall is less kind to the "African Dances (4)," which sound further away, although the playing is excellent, and so is the piece. This is an easy recommendation for the chamber music of Coleridge-Taylor, and while the "Quintet" is not the sort of work that you can take in all at one sitting, the remaining pieces seem to fly by. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Chamber Music is about as friendly and familiar as unfamiliar music gets.