One of the larger-scale duos for violin and piano is the Ballade
in C minor, which was written for the Russian-born violinist Michael Zacherewitsch (1879–1953), who gave the first performance with the composer at the piano in Leeds in October 1907. At only twelve years of age, Zacherewitsch had made a triumphant debut playing the Tchaikovsky Concerto, conducted by its composer. So impressed was Tchaikovsky that he got up a subscription to send Zacherewitsch to Prague, where he studied with Ševcík. In 1903 Zacherewitsch gave his first recital in London, in advance of a tour of England. He returned often, becoming a British citizen in 1915. His playing was compared by some to that of Wieniawski in its panache and elegance.
Coleridge-Taylor openly admired Tchaikovsky’s manner and the Ballade has passionate traits which sound distinctly Slavic (reminiscent more of the melancholic Rachmaninov than of Tchaikovsky, perhaps), but whether this was a conscious tribute to Zacherewitsch’s national origins is a matter of conjecture. It is rhapsodic in form, developing from a motto theme announced by the violin over rich, dark arpeggios from the piano. Numerous variations of tempo and metre eventually culminate in a fervent and impassioned climax, the piece concluding with a bravura coda in a brilliant C major.
from notes by Lionel Harrison © 2007