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Stanford: String Quintets & Intermezzi

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Catalogue No: SOMMCD 0623
Release Date: 20/11/2020
Number of Discs: 1
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Liner Notes
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SOMM Recordings’ widely acclaimed survey of Charles Villiers Stanford’s chamber music continues with his two String Quintets and Three Intermezzi arranged for cello and piano.

A unique collaboration between members of the Dante and Endellion Quartets, together with pianist Benjamin Frith, sees first recordings of the String Quintet No.2 in C minor and the arrangement of the Three Intermezzi.

Composed with Stanford’s lifelong mentor, the legendary violinist Joseph Joachim, in mind, the Quintets are the product of a master craftsman speaking with his own distinctive voice. Both were first performed in 1904 and separately owe a direct and glancing debt to Brahms. The First echoes the three-movement structure of Brahms’ First Quintet and its melodious warmth although its second movement strikingly makes use of an archaic form of Irish traditional singing – sean nós (literally “old style”).

Composed to mark the 60th anniversary of Joachim’s first visit to Britain, the Second Quintet shares what Stanford authority Jeremy Dibble in his erudite booklet notes describes as “the same serious demeanour and a similar outlook towards grand architecture” of Brahms’ First Symphony, which Joachim conducted on that occasion.

Originally composed for clarinet and piano, the Three Intermezzi of 1880 display a masterly interplay between cello and piano in Stanford’s own arrangement.

The Dante Quartet’s three-volume survey of Stanford’s String Quartets was universally admired. Of Volume 2 (SOMMCD 0185), Gramophone enthused:

“All three of the works on this disc are premiere recordings, an astonishing state of affairs for what must surely be the most significant quartet cycle by any British composer before Frank Bridge. That alone makes this disc essential listening… They’re each worth hearing, and the Dante Quartet go at them with red-blooded gusto and an energy that’s clearly born from the thrill of discovery… SOMM and the Dantes have broken important new ground with impressive commitment.”

On This Recording

    Quintet No. 1 in F major

  1. 1. Allegro
  2. 2 Andante
  3. 3 Allegretto – Allegro
  4. Three Intermezzi, arr. for and piano *

  5. 1. Andante espressivo – Allegretto leggiero – Tempo I
  6. 2. Allegro agitato – Tranquillo
  7. 3. Allegreeto scherzando
  8. Quintet No. 2 in C minor *

  9. 1. Allegro molto moderato ma energico
  10. 2 Andante
  11. 3. Allegro molto
  12. 4. Finale, Adagio – Allegro giusto

* First Recordings

Reviews:

“The musicians in this recording play with real fire and commitment, and are admirable advocates for these superb scores. The performances are beautifully recorded in an ambience that confers warmth and intimacy. Who better than Jeremy Dibble, renowned authority and biographer of Stanford, to provide the accompanying booklet notes. None of the works on this disc had I heard before, but I’m immensely grateful to have made a first encounter.” — Stephen Greenbank, MusicWeb International

“three quarters of the Dante Quartet and half of the Endellion Quartet join forces in richly expressed performances of these beautifully wrought works, both cast in a post-Brahmsian Romantic mould.” —Stephen Pettitt, The Sunday Times

“it’s worth reiterating just what a debt of gratitude lovers of British music owe to SOMM and the Dante Quartet for their commitment to Stanford’s chamber music. Listening to this vibrant new recording, what struck me was… the freshness, the spontaneity, the instinctive ‘rightness’ of Stanford’s writing for strings. This might be the most satisfying body of work in this genre by any British composer before Frank Bridge. … there’s an operatic since of drama in the finale of the First Quintet, and a sweeping, almost symphonic emotional range in the Second. … Krysia Osostowicz is frequently thrilling… [the combined Dante and Endellion players are] wholly inside this sincere and strikingly passionate score. Cellist Richard Jenkinson and pianist Benjamin Frith play the Schumannesque Three Intermezzi with unaffected warmth; a lovely bonus on a highly rewarding album.” —Richard Bratby, Gramophone