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About this Piece

The Nonet in F minor, Op. 2, was written in 1894. It is scored for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, double bass, and piano. Its first performance (and apparently the only one until very recent times) was on a student concert at the Royal College of Music on July 5, 1894.

The Nonet is in four large movements, and its scoring makes it almost orchestral in sound. The influence of Dvořák, whom Coleridge-Taylor admired greatly, is evident in the opening theme of the first movement; nevertheless, there is much individuality of style throughout the entire work. The slow movement is characterized by florid lines and a truly masterful second theme. Listeners will have to decide for themselves whether Grove’s criticism of this movement holds true. The duple-meter Scherzo has been aptly described by Geoffrey Self (The Hiawatha Man, 1995) as “goblinesque,” with its minor key and pervasive pizzicato in the strings, but it also contains a lyrical trio. The final movement does not adopt a conventional “finale” character—neither light and playful, nor heroic—but rather, with its major key and rousing spirit, conveys a sense of easy, unexaggerated confidence. —Jane Ellsworth, reprinted with kind permission of Centaur Records, Inc.