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CD Review

Charles Villiers Stanford

String Quartets

  • String Quartet #1 in G Major, Op. 44
  • String Quartet #2 in A minor, Op. 45
  • Fantasy for Horn Quintet in A minor
RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet
Hyperion CDA67434 68m DDD
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You cannot help formulating a liking for Sir Charles Stanford's music and Chandos' wonderful foray into the symphonic and orchestral works of this composer stand as excellent testaments to his musical talents. Stanford was also a dab hand at chamber music and these three works comprise an excellent introduction to his contribution to the genre.

The G Major quartet is a bubbly and infectious work throughout containing much music that is ebullient and tuneful. The RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet play with just the right tempo in the Allegro assai whilst the expansive Largo con molto espressione reminds one of the similarly beautiful slow movement of the Fifth Symphony.

The A minor quartet is a slightly darker proposition but is again a pretty remarkable work all round. It is also in four movements with the first marked Molto moderato then veering into Piu' moto and Tempo I markings. The short prestissimo lasts just over two minutes and is an intriguing option instead of a full-blown Scherzo. I greatly enjoyed the Allegro molto that rounds off the work in fine, assured fashion.

The Fantasy for Horn Quintet is an interesting proposition all round and Stephen Stirling is quite an excellent advocate of the music. It is interesting to note that all works are first recordings and the well-researched notes by Jeremy Dibble provide much tantalizing information. An unqualified recommendation then, especially for those already charmed by Stanford's music.

Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech