On 25 January Edward Gardner and the London Philharmonic Orchestra gave the London premiere of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Solemn Prelude at the Royal Festival Hall, with the piece returning to the city where the composer was born. Solemn Prelude was commissioned by the Three Choirs Festival and received its first performance in Worcester on 13 September 1899, conducted by the composer. The full score was recently rediscovered by Three Choirs Festival CEO Alexis Paterson in the British Library, and published in a new edition by Faber Music. You can hear a snippet of the LPO rehearsing Solemn Prelude here.
Ryan Bancroft also conducted the piece in January this year in concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra in Minneapolis and with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in Texas; Solemn Prelude received its US premiere in September 2022 from Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
David Hill, who gave the modern premiere of the 10-minute work at Worcester Cathedral on 27 July 2001 with the Philharmonia, returns to the piece for two concerts in spring 2023, performing it at Yale University on 19 February, and in the UK on 22 March with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in Poole.
…It is a stately piece, with the composer’s customary clarity of scoring and professionalism…
The Guardian (Martin Kettle), 27 January 2023
For its London premiere, the LPO and Edward Gardner gave a lusciously rich performance, the orchestra's impressive string sound in particular setting out their stall well for the Elgar later in the evening…the piece has some delightful subtle moments amidst the lyrical surges, and despite a passionate climax, ends in restrained calm. This performance provided an enthusiastically strong showcase.
Bachtrack (Nick Boston), 26 January 2023