Author Topic: Charles Villiers Stanford  (Read 9875 times)

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tjguitar

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Charles Villiers Stanford
« on: May 19, 2007, 08:06:45 PM »
We were talking about Stanford in another thread, I don't recall which, but I felt the composer deserved his own.

I haven't ventured out into his choral music, but am pleased with two sets that I have of his orchestral music:



I really enjoy the piano concerto which reminds me of Rachmaninov, the concert variations are fun too. I prefer the rhapsodies to the symphonies overall, but that's no slack on the symphonies.  I wish there was more of his orchestral output on disc, though I'm not sure how much else he composed?  I have not ventured out into his chamber music yet.


edit: I forgot to ask, does anyone have the following disc?:



Is it similar to his 2nd Concerto or a much different composition?

Thanks
TJ
« Last Edit: May 19, 2007, 08:10:39 PM by tjguitar »

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2007, 06:25:03 AM »
We were talking about Stanford in another thread, I don't recall which, but I felt the composer deserved his own.

edit: I forgot to ask, does anyone have the following disc?:



Is it similar to his 2nd Concerto or a much different composition?


TJ - I own that Hyperion disc of the Parry & Stanford Piano Concertos (probably have at least a dozen of the CDs in this Romantic piano series) - fine performances, but these are the only compositions that are in my collection of these composers - I've not heard the 2nd Concerto, so can't comment specifically.  :)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2007, 07:16:13 AM »
I have both discs. The idiom is similar in both concertos. I prefer the Irish Rhapsodies (espec. No 4) and the fine Irish Symphony.
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Offline 71 dB

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2007, 05:28:42 AM »
Thanks to Mark I listened yesterday Stanford's Piano Quintet & String Quintet 1.

Nice music.  :) I found the music organised and little stanford-offish.  ;D

That Hyperion disc has excellent sound!
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Offline JoshLilly

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2008, 06:09:39 AM »
I got an opportunity to get the complete Chandos set of Stanford's symphonies, used, and took advantage. My only inkling of what I might expect was based off the Stanford+Parry CD from The Romantic Piano Concerto series. I liked both of those piano concerti at least a little, so thought I might take a chance without too much expense.

Stanford is a bit odd. I like almost all the material he uses as it is introduced, but unfortunately, every single one of the seven symphonies feels too long for me. Not only that, but every movement! That being said, though, I at least like all 7 of them. I'm kinda neutral to the Clarinet Concerto. I guess my favourite symphony might be #4.

Better than the symphonies, I really enjoy the tuneful, well-crafted orchestral Irish Rhapsodies! I can't believe I've gone so long without ever hearing them; I don't even remember hearing of them until a couple of months ago. What he does with the themes makes for real fun listening.

The CD liner notes for the set are on the skimpy side, and I'm having a hard time finding out much about these works in particular. I'd be interested in reading more detail, or just opinions. In any case, all told, I'm pretty happy with getting this set, there's lots of really good stuff here.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2008, 07:55:46 AM »
Stanford's Piano Concerto No.3(orchestrated by Geoffrey Bush) and coupled with his early Cello Concerto is available on Lyrita(SRCD 321).
The Violin Concerto coupled with the Suite for Violin and Orchestra with Anthony Marwood as a fine soloist comes on Hyperion CDA67208 in that company's Romantic Violin Concerto series.

I rather like his big choral pieces. There is a Chandos coupling of the Stabat Mater with the Bible Songs(CHAN 9548-Hickox, as usual!) and there is/was a splendid 2 disc Marco Polo of the huge Requiem(8.223580-1).

The recent Chandos CD coupling the Songs of the Fleet, Songs of the Sea and 'The Revenge' with Gerald Finley as a masterful solo baritone won awards, if I recall.

Stanford was a hugely influential teacher in his time even if many of his pupils ended up in rebellion against his rooted conservatism. Sadly, he lived long enough to be almost completely forgotten and ignored. It is heartening that his music has enjoyed such a recent revival even if-ultimately-he was a worthy rather than inspired composer.

I would like to hear the views of others in relation to a comparison between Stanford and Parry. I sometimes think that Parry had more imagination but then change my mind again!

(Incidentally, I possess an orchestral score for Stanford's Prelude to 'Oedipus Rex' with Sir Henry Wood's autograph stamp on it. Don't know where it came from and wonder if it has any value?)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2008, 08:52:44 AM »
I like symphonies 3 and 5 but better still are the Irish Rhapsodies (No 4 is my favourite). I agree that the other symphonies seem to drag on a bit.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline The new erato

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2008, 12:30:15 PM »


The recent Chandos CD coupling the Songs of the Fleet, Songs of the Sea and 'The Revenge' with Gerald Finley as a masterful solo baritone won awards, if I recall.



I can certainly vouch for this; splendid sound as well:



awards:
• MDT Best Seller of the Year - December 2006
• Gramophone Editors Choice Disc of The Month - July 2006
• MDT Best Seller - June 2006
• Times Classical CD of the Week - June 2006
• Telegraph Classical CDs of the Week - May 2006

Offline tjguitar

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2008, 10:12:27 PM »
It seems Lloyd Jones has recorded 6 of the Stanford symphonies for NAXOS. I think I'll stick with the Handley for now...


http://musicweb.uk.net/classrev/2008/Oct08/Stanford_8570355.htm

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2009, 01:25:28 AM »
If you like Stanford you may well enjoy Mortelman's 'Homeric Symphony' recently released on Hyperion. Not a great work but enjoyable and Stanford came to mind when I listened to it.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2011, 09:08:59 AM »
A bump for a really neat composer. The fifth symphony is excellent throughout, but has an especially fine final movement - overall it's probably my favourite of his symphonies along with the second. Odd how I find so many of Stanford's symphonies pick up greatly during the final movement - the third does too.

The interesting thing about Stanford, and something which elevates him to "really worth giving a shot" rather than just of niche interest is the general high quality of his entire output. The symphonies may not always find him at his best, but they never fail to interest me not simply as artful exercises in Mendelssohn/Brahms worship, but in how they look forward to the next generation of British composers in certain effects and tones. Some of his work would be of interest to someone who wants a less Wagnerian Bax, and so forth, although I should be careful not to over-stretch this tenuous point.

His concertos are very fine, and quite virtuosic - the second piano concerto is a real and dramatic concert work, no salon involved. Two of his Irish rhapsodies contain concertante elements, and these works look forward to the English tone poem of the first half of the 20th century along with pieces such as the Lark Ascending. His chamber music has been elegant and charming from what I have heard (violin sonatas, two quartets, etc), although anyone looking for emotion or quotations could do well to avoid them, as they are highly classical/objective in form :) He also wrote well for piano solo.

He is known above all for writing reams of choral music, but its quality cannot be overstated - really wonderful service music with some exceptionally enjoyable secular works thrown in. His more concert-oriented Requiem is also really good stuff, marking a break from a perceived tradition of Victorian potboilers. That Chandos disc of sea songs mentioned earlier is a favourite of mine. This kind of music can sound chillingly fine with the kind of well-drilled cathedral choir which works of this style in England at the time tended to be written for.

He was even a notable composer of opera (c. 10 in total), and by all accounts expertly wrote for the medium, although we'll probably never know what much of the music is like, as the huge amount of late Romantic and early modern British operas written during the 'English musical Renaissance' were completely ignored by native programmers. It's nothing to do with quality, as the neglect of opera occurs throughout the output of even the most recognised of composers. I think that prior to Britten, and ignoring the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta tradition, only Vaughan Williams had any luck with having his operas performed and understood.

Stanford is a nifty little composer and don't feel that he's just one of these 'national' figures who only exist to add some Hawthornian idea of cultural weight to better elevate later composers - his music can stand on its own merits and has the quality to appeal to a broad audience.
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Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2011, 01:13:42 PM »
Sara - thanks for the update & the bump on this composer!  :D

I have acquired a few more of his works, i.e. Clarinet Concerto, Nonet, Piano/String Quintets, & Sea Songs, since my last post - but have not obtained any of his Symphonies - looking for some new recommendations here - Dave  :)

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2011, 02:00:00 PM »
The original issues of the Chandos symphony volumes find themselves listed for low amounts on Amazon US marketplace every now and again (atm a few are at the $3 mark). The Chandos recordings are apparently sightly preferable to the Naxos ones, although those have gotten very good reviews too. Whichever you go for, you must also try the Chandos twofer reissue of the Irish rhapsodies (initially coupled one per symphony) with a piano concerto. The rhapsodies are very much in the Smetana mould, and don't give much ground to that composer in terms of quality.

For specific works the third symphony is his most popular, possibly due to its subtitle - the Irish - yet it's not quite full of the folksiness that one might expect, it's just a solid Stanford piece. Naxos helpfully couples two of my favourites, the 2nd and 5th. I should probably buy that one :) It's hard to pick between 2-6 as to which really stand out, but as a group they seem to be his best. The first is possibly a bit too long and undeveloped, the seventh is somewhat thin.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2011, 02:49:59 PM by Lethe Dmitriyevich Shostakovich »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2011, 05:26:20 PM »
Stanford composed one of the finest songs I've ever heard which is called The Blue Bird for solo voices. It's simple, but heartbreakingly beautiful. Of his other works, I really enjoy the symphonies (I own both Handley's and Lloyd-Jones' cycles), the concerti, the Irish Rhapsodies, but I have yet to break into his choral music outside of the part-song I mentioned above. I heard his Requiem is quite good, would anyone else here recommend it? If yes, what is a good recording? Thanks in advance.
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2011, 05:39:40 PM »
The Requiem was more or less totally unknown before the (very good) Naxos recording, although I hope somebody else will step in with some info so I don't look like I'm on a crusade or something. It's a really fine piece, although not as distinctive as the great ones. Musicweb has two reviews:

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Nov04/Stanford_Requiem.htm
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/Feb05/Stanford_Requiem.htm

I particularly admire his choral music for some reason. The secular works (mainly suites themed on the navy) are excellent, and there are traces of the Gilbert & Sullivan tradition in effortlessly catchy tunes like The Little Admiral in Songs of the Fleet. The sacred works I find hard to criticise although it's equally difficult to pick highlights. I think that I like them most as repertoire pieces - his motets change nothing, in the grand scheme of musical history. If they were not written, another composer would have produced works to fill this gap in the corpus of the cathedral choirs. But at the same time I feel that Stanford, maybe even more than Parry, nailed the style. If he wrote anything more exciting it wouldn't fit the mould anymore. I suppose this does make them to some extent academic excercises, but this doesn't preclude their enjoyability - liking them must require affinity to their chosen style, as I've seen many Stanford fans not too engaged by this area of his output.
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2011, 06:05:49 PM »
The Requiem was more or less totally unknown before the (very good) Naxos recording, although I hope somebody else will step in with some info so I don't look like I'm on a crusade or something. It's a really fine piece, although not as distinctive as the great ones. Musicweb has two reviews:

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Nov04/Stanford_Requiem.htm
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/Feb05/Stanford_Requiem.htm

I particularly admire his choral music for some reason. The secular works (mainly suites themed on the navy) are excellent, and there are traces of the Gilbert & Sullivan tradition in effortlessly catchy tunes like The Little Admiral in Songs of the Fleet. The sacred works I find hard to criticise although it's equally difficult to pick highlights. I think that I like them most as repertoire pieces - his motets change nothing, in the grand scheme of musical history. If they were not written, another composer would have produced works to fill this gap in the corpus of the cathedral choirs. But at the same time I feel that Stanford, maybe even more than Parry, nailed the style. If he wrote anything more exciting it wouldn't fit the mould anymore. I suppose this does make them to some extent academic excercises, but this doesn't preclude their enjoyability - liking them must require affinity to their chosen style, as I've seen many Stanford fans not too engaged by this area of his output.
It is quite good, so a right and just crusade from my point of view (if you want one that is)! :) In any case, I completely agree with Lethe that it (the Requiem) is very good. And like her, I think the Rhapsodies are outstanding. I think they hold their own entirely.

I recently added the songs (on Hyperion), but I have not gotten around to ripping them yet (something of a backlog on that front). I'll eventually report on those. I've not really gotten to the other choral music...yet...
« Last Edit: April 23, 2011, 06:09:22 PM by mc ukrneal »
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2011, 06:13:58 PM »
but I have not gotten around to ripping them yet (something of a backlog on that front).

The story of my life! :'(

The two regions of his output that I have yet to encounter are his solo organ music and his solo (non choral) songs. I am especially looking forward to getting around to the latter, as I can't imagine them disappointing.
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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2011, 07:43:30 PM »
Yes, Stanford's Requiem is a fine work. It's definitely not a "fire & brimstone" requiem, a la Berlioz or Verdi. It has a lyrical Mendelssohnian quality. He starts and finishes off the work with a gentle horn call, which provides a kind of "frame" for the 80 minute long expanse. I especially like the lacrimosa where the soprano and mezzo soprano sing a very mournful song, gracefully intertwining their vocal lines and harmonies. A "valley of tears" indeed - Stanford's ability to set the Latin text was excellent. This work was a tribute to Lord Leighton, a great British painter of the time and a personal friend of the composer. Upon receiving the commission, Stanford - being a Protestant - apparently had some minor irks about setting the Latin (or Catholic) service, but thank goodness that he decided to go ahead with this project, because it simply is an outstanding work. The Naxos disc also has a number of bonus tracks to fill up the 2 disc set which are excerpts from one of his operas The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan. Here there is an overture, a song and some ballet music. It's a typically British kind of exotica - perhaps there is a hint of Arabian spice in there, but it's very faint. All in all this is a good set, particularly worth having if you like Romantic choral music...


Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2011, 07:56:55 PM »
Here's the partsong, The Blue Bird, I mentioned earlier. Please excuse the audio it kind of distorts on the real high notes. Anyway, this work is just mesmerizing to me. Some of the most beautiful vocal melodies I've ever heard.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNdeCzrdnpE

By the way, thanks to all for your suggestions.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2011, 07:59:33 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline Grazioso

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Re: Charles Villiers Stanford
« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2011, 03:30:55 AM »
I can certainly vouch for this; splendid sound as well:



awards:
• MDT Best Seller of the Year - December 2006
• Gramophone Editors Choice Disc of The Month - July 2006
• MDT Best Seller - June 2006
• Times Classical CD of the Week - June 2006
• Telegraph Classical CDs of the Week - May 2006

I recommend this disc, too. Quite a stunner on all counts: some gorgeous music, superlative singing, top-drawer engineering.
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