For her debut recording, Elizabeth Llewellyn presents a recital of songs by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. In the liner notes, she writes, “I could have recorded some Puccini or Verdi… But I felt passionately that, if I was going to spend much time, energy, and money on an album, it was important to create something which had not existed before.” I agree. And I think the resources were well spent.
The songs come from various phases of Coleridge-Taylor’s career. It includes some very British-sounding selections. Six Sorrow Songs, with text by Christina Rosetti, is one such example. Others range a little farther afield.
African Romances, with text by African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, has an unusual sound. Coleridge-Taylor became aware of African-American music while touring the states. This song reflects that growing interest, though still sounding mostly European. “Big Lady Moon,” goes further, with some jazz-inflected melodic patterns.
These selections show that Coleridge-Taylor almost rivaled Schubert in his ability to set text artistically. There’s plenty of emotional content for a singer to express. And Llewellyn does just that.
This project was a labor of love, and that’s apparent in every track. Llewellyn signs with a wonderfully expressive and well-rounded tone. Her phrasings shape the texts and tell the stories.
There is still so much of Coleridge-Taylor’s catalog to discover. Thanks to Elizabeth Llewellyn for this heartfelt recital.
Heart and Hereafter
Collected songs of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Elizabeth Llewellyn, soprano; Simon Lepper, piano
Orchid Classics ORC100164