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Charles Villiers Stanford: String Quartets Nos. 5 & 8 / Mark Bebbington, piano; Dante Quartet

Album Summary

>Stanford, Charles Villiers : Quartet for Strings no 5 in B flat major, Op. 104
>Joachim, Joseph : Pieces, Op. 2
>Stanford, Charles Villiers : Quartet for Strings no 8 in E minor (unpublished), Op. 167
Performers Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

This new release signals the start of an important new series from SOMM Recordings which will feature the Eight Quartets by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford. This first installation contains Quartets Nos 5 and 8, which have never before been recorded but as this recording proves, deserve to gain their rightful place among the great 20th century quartets. Sir Charles Villiers Stanford invested a great deal of his creative powers into his eight string quartets which are all 'big-boned' intellectual works, yet full of vibrantly appealing melodies, structural invention and variety, and are typical of Stanford. With the exception of Robert Simpson, no other British composer has devoted so much effort to the quartet idiom, yet Stanford's works still remain thoroughly neglected. Much of this is down to the unavailability of performing materials since four of the quartets, Nos 4, 6, 7, and 8, are still unpublished and require extensive editorial work for performance and recording. Professor Jeremy Dibble has tackled this editorial work for this first installment. Stanford wrote the 5th Quartet in the memory of his friend and mentor, violinist Joseph Joachim, who died in 1907. In this piece, Stanford included his own personal tribute in each of the four movements, a motto 'quotation' from the opening bars of Joachim's Romance Op. 2 No. 1 for Violin and Piano. This work has been included in this recording for its important relationship to the 5th Quartet.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: St. Nicholas Parish Church Thames Ditton (12/07/2015/12/08/2015).


Brahms with an Irish accent
This new release by the Dante Quartet features two of the eight string quartets composed by Charles Villiers Stanford.

String Quartet No. 5 (1907) was written in memory of violinist and composer Joseph Joachim. As a violinist, Joachim was a major force in classical music (Brahms' Violin Concerto and Double Concerto were written for him). And he was the founder of the Joachim String Quartet, which set the standard for quartet playing in the last part of the 19th century.

Joachim and the younger Stanford (also a violinist) were close friends and colleagues. Because of their shared love of chamber music, Stanford chose to commemorate Joachim with a string quartet.

The work has a wistfulness to it, but the quartet is hardly a gloomy work. The melodies sparkle and engage, often tinged with Stanford's characteristic Irish lilt. There's a lightness to the music that celebrates rather than mourns the death of this famous violinist and quartet player.

In the work, Stanford quotes a passage from Joachim's Romance, Op. 2, No. 1. That piece is thoughtfully included in the album for reference.

Stanford's final quartet, his eighth, was finished in 1919 and remained unpublished. By that time, his music (modeled on German romanticism) was considered hopelessly old-fashioned. And so it may have been. But taken on its own merits, this quartet is wonderfully expressive composition.

Stanford imbues a restless urgency in the opening movement that returns in a quiet echo at the end of the work. In between is a gorgeously lyrical slow movement and (of course) an Irish music-inspired finale. It may have been out of date, but Stanford's last quartet was an authentic expression of his musical voice.

The Dante Quartet give these works warm, sympathetic readings. Their refined delicate performances make the most of Stanford's lyrical passages. The recording seems to give the ensemble a slightly hollow sound, but that's a minor complaint. I've always enjoyed Stanford's music, so for me, this recording is welcome, indeed.
Submitted on 12/08/16 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Stanford, Charles Villiers : Quartet for Strings no 5 in B flat major, Op. 104
  • Ensemble: Dante Quartet
  • Notes: St. Nicholas Parish Church Thames Ditton (12/07/2015/12/08/2015)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 9 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Joachim, Joseph : Pieces, Op. 2 :: 1. Romance
  • Performers: Mark Bebbington (Piano); Krysia Osostowicz (Violin)
  • Notes: St. Nicholas Parish Church Thames Ditton (12/07/2015/12/08/2015)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 36 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: circa 1850

>Stanford, Charles Villiers : Quartet for Strings no 8 in E minor (unpublished), Op. 167
  • Notes: St. Nicholas Parish Church Thames Ditton (12/07/2015/12/08/2015)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 50 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1919