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The Music of Roger Sacheverell Coke

Somm Recordings SOMMCD0147

World Première recording of Piano Music by British composer Roger Sacheverell Coke (1912-1972).

  • Preludes Opp. 33 & 34
  • Variations and Finale Op.37

Promotional video:

Reviews:

Five Stars for Callaghan's Roger Sacheverell Coke CD on the Somm label

Musical Opinion, James Palmer 

Simon Callaghan, a pianist who likes to experiment with rarely visited repertoire, has devoted much effort to the recovery of Coke

Amadeus, Claudia Abbiati

Played so faithfully here by Simon Callaghan

The Observer, Stephen Pritchard

Roger Sacheverell Coke (1912-1972) was something of a tragic figure; wealthy, talented, well connected and the possessor of a formidable technique, he devoted his life to music, writing copiously for the piano, the orchestra and the stage.

This release has been an exciting discovery

MusicWeb International, Stephen Greenbank
Recording of the month, July 2015

It’s fascinating to read about Simon Callaghan’s ‘unearthing’ of the music of the Derbyshire composer, Roger Sacheverell Coke. He was given a score of the composer’s 24 Preludes by a fellow pianist. Initially off-put by the meticulous detail contained therein, his perseverance won the day and there was no turning back. With echoes of Scriabin, Bax and Rachmaninov, the music struck a chord, and Callaghan became a man with a mission. With not much to go on apart from an entry in Grove (1955 Edition), he decided to research the life of this enigmatic composer. The Coke-Steel Archive at Chesterfield Library and the British Library proved valuable resources, the latter offering a late 1940s recording of Coke himself playing and discussing his music. Finally, Callaghan approached Somm and the 24 Preludes (1938-41) were recorded last year, coupled with the 15 Variations, Op. 37 from 1939.

Commanding and virtuosic musicianship

MusicWeb International, Nick Barnard

“Much of the reason for the positive impression this music makes has to be down to the passionate and highly skilled advocacy of pianist Simon Callaghan.  I have previously enjoyed his contribution as part of a piano duet with Hiroaki Takenouchi exploring Delius’s orchestral works in their 2 piano/piano 4 hands transcriptions.  This is possibly even more impressive.  Coke makes great demands upon his player and Callaghan — and the Somm engineers — rise to the challenge magnificently.  In reality we are unlikely to get many other versions of this repertoire any time soon so the good news is just how fine the playing is here.  To learn wholly unfamiliar music such as this takes many hours — especially when Coke side-steps one’s expectations with such regularity — so the player has to be very careful to play what Coke wrote and not what he thinks he wrote.”

Finely played, full of brilliance and virtuosity

The Classical Reviewer, Bruce Reader

Please click the link above for the full review. Some extracts:

“A new release by Somm featuring pianist Simon Callaghan brings rewarding works by Roger Sacheverell Coke that deserve to be heard”

“After a stormy, unsettled Prelude No.6 Presto agitato, the Prelude No.7. Grazioso has some lovely harmonies, a gentle dissonance and a lovely hushed coda. No.8. Lento maestoso has gentle, rippling phrases as well as moments of hushed, suspended beauty. Callaghan gives Prelude No.9. Leggiero scherzando a lovely rhythmic lift, beautifully paced and phrased. No.10. Vivace has a fine forward, rippling flow, beautifully played here with this pianist bringing a lovely persuasive touch.

Callaghan's spirited and skilful playing is impressive

The Birmingham Post, Norman Stinchcombe

Roger Sacheverell Coke was much appreciated as a young composer and pianist in the 1930s but his wealthy aristocratic background (he shared a piano tutor with Princess Elizabeth the future Queen) and adherence to romantic music meant that he fell out of favour. He died, his mind clouded by mental illness, as a virtual recluse in 1972.

Simon Callaghan’s assiduous research and persuasive advocacy has led to Coke’s 24 Preludes Op.33 and Op. 34 and the Op.37 15 Variations and Finale receiving their world premiere recordings. Callaghan’s spirited and skilful playing is impressive: these works are “always passionate and intensely lyrical” as he claims even if they’re not quite “lost treasures”. Rachmaninov casts a long shadow here, the fiery Op.34 Prelude 19 could pass as the genuine article, but Coke adds a touch of English pastoralism (Bax’s music was an influence) which makes for a piquant mix – well worth exploring.

 

An eloquent advocate

The Sunday Times
“[Callaghan’s] judgement is proved spot-on, and he makes an eloquent advocate.”

A new figure and force

Quarterly Review, Stuart Millson
“Simon Callaghan – very much a new figure, and force, in recording and performance”

Manner from on high

MusicWeb International, Rob Barnett
“I hope that there will be more Coke from Callaghan — he plays as if he has received the manner from on high. This is remarkable given that the music was otherwise completely unknown as a performing entity.”

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The deeper the blue…

SOMM Recordings SOMMCD275

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Tableaux de Provence: Works for Saxophone

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Bernhard Scholz and Josef Rheinberger
Concertos by Bernhard Scholz and Josef Rheinberger

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Coke Hyperion
Coke Piano Concertos

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Warp and Weft, EMR CD043
Warp and Weft

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Colours of the Heart

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English Piano Works

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05/08/2020