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The second cello sonata in C major op. 29 coincides with a decisive moment in Coke’s compositional development. While in the throes of composing the sonata in October 1938, Coke decided to destroy of a number of early works he now regarded as immature – notably his first symphony and first piano concerto – an action reported in the Sheffield Telegraph (11 October 1938) presumably after a tip-off from Coke himself. Perhaps for this reason, the work seems to have held a particular significance to the composer, leading him to programme it in at least 19 concerts until 1964 (by comparison, the first sonata appeared in 13 concerts and the third sonata achieved only 5 outings) and issue a printed edition under his own imprint in 1951.
Dedicated to Coke’s mother Dorothy, the first cello sonata op. 24 received its first performance at Brookhill Hall on 27 June 1936, in which the composer was joined by the Sheffield-based cellist Alan Morton. The London premiere followed at Aeolian Hall on 10 December that year in a concert consisting entirely of Coke’s music, including the second piano sonata op. 26 and the Ballade for solo piano op. 27. Cast in four movements, the sonata exhibits many of the hallmarks of Coke’s music.
Composed towards the end of 1941, the third sonata was ‘affectionately dedicated to Kinkie Halswell’, an individual whose identity remains unknown.
Like its two predecessors, the sonata received its premiere at Brookhill Hall, in a concert on 27 May 1942, once again featuring Alan Morton and the composer. By this time, Coke was suffering from longer spells of mental instability, and received treatment for depression and schizophrenia.