A feast for lovers of choral music,
This review is from: Hiawatha's Wedding Feast / Symphonic Variations (Audio CD)
Coleridge-Taylor (1875 - 1912) was of mixed race, his mother being white English and his father a Sierra Leonean Creole. This made him very unusual among classical composers. He achieved great success in his native England and internationally, especially for this present work. He was only 37 when he died.
His name obviously causes some confusion. To confuse things further, he set Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem, Kubla Khan to music (Kubla Khan, op. 61, rhapsody). He also, as a great admirer of Longfellow's poetry, called his son Hiawatha. How the poor lad coped, being of mixed race and having the name Hiawatha Coleridge-Taylor, I'm not sure.
Coleridge-Taylor's work was championed by Sir Malcolm Sargent, who became strongly associated it, especially during the years leading up to World War II. Sargent was a greatly respected conductor in Britain, especially for conducting choral works. Really, if you are going to listen to this piece, it should be this recording, with Sargent, the Royal Choral Society and the Philharmonia Orchestra, that you should choose. Having said that, I'm not sure if there are any other recordings available anyway.
Hiawatha's Wedding Feast consists of 9 sections - 8 for chorus and orchestra, and one for solo tenor and orchestra:
1. You shall hear how Pau-Puk-Keewis
2. Then the handsome Pau-Puk-Keewis
3. He was dress'd in shirt of doe-skin
4. First he danc'd a solemn measure
5. Then said they to Chibiabos
6. Onaway, awake beloved, for tenor
7. Thus the gentle Chibiabos
8. Very boastful was Iagoo
9. Such was Hiawatha's wedding
The tenor soloist here, Richard Lewis, does a fine job. Present day tenors should include this piece in their repertoire.
This is a worthwhile musical work, festive and accessible, with an interesting blend of English and American elements.