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

Amadeus, Claudia Abbiati

British composer Roger Sacheverell Coke (1912-1972) had a troubled life and was from an upper class family of Derbyshire’s historical military tradition. Despite his struggles his wealth allowed him to devote himself full time to composition in a large home studio with a splendid Steinway piano and a capacity of several hundred people.

Coke had numerous health problems, exacerbated by his heavy dependence on tobacco (it is said that he smoked more than 100 cigarettes per day) and his homosexuality, then a criminal offense. He was a prolific composer: it is worth mentioning the six piano concertos, the three symphonies and the opera in three acts taken from the play by Shelly The Cenci, financed by the Coke himself, performed only once in 1959 and criticised by the press for using a ‘outdated’ late romantic language. Simon Callaghan, a pianist who likes to experiment with rarely visited repertoire, has devoted much effort to the recovery of Coke.

This CD offers the first recordings of the 24 Preludes opp. 33 and 34, a cycle dedicated to Coke’s mother exploring the various keys in the cycle of fifths starting from C major, and the Variations Op. 37, inspired by the Variations on a Theme of Corelli of Coke’s friend Sergei Rachmaninov: compositions reminiscent of Britten and Skryabin.

The above is a rough translation of the original review in Italian which has been published in the October issue of Amadeus

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Beautifully performed
Deep-rooted conviction
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The performances on this disc are spirited, well-shaped and refined
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Consummate ease and brilliance
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Rapturous … highly recommended
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Callaghan makes the case for both with flair and conviction
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Sent into the shadows by Simon Callaghan ✶✶✶✶
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The performances here are excellent, with Simon Callaghan making light work of the works' technical demands
Simon Callaghan’s interpretation was superb
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Callaghan once again shows himself to be one of the leading young British pianists
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Impressive pianism – BBC Radio 3 Record Review
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Callaghan's achievement of myriad tonal hues adds greatly to the allure
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Passion, total commitment …heartfelt affection
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Unquestionably deserves to be explored and celebrated
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Performances from all concerned are admirable
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A commendable revival of works dug out of the archives by the pianist himself
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Velvet-gloved pianism of ravishing sensitivity from Simon Callaghan
A display of exemplary musicianship
One of the festival highlights
English pianist Simon Callaghan presented an evening of captivating sound and fantasy which was rightly celebrated with enthusiastic ‘bravi’
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Played so faithfully here by Simon Callaghan
This release has been an exciting discovery
Commanding and virtuosic musicianship
Finely played, full of brilliance and virtuosity
Callaghan's spirited and skilful playing is impressive
An eloquent advocate
A new figure and force
Simon Callaghan proves the ideal partner, subtly weighting and detailing the music’s shifting harmonic and textural profiles
You will not be disappointed
Manner from on high
An adventurous selection of not-so-well-known sonatas delivered with aplomb

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14/07/2020