Friday, 20 March 2009

Charles Villiers Stanford: Land of Sunset Glories

Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)Piano Music - Land of Sunset Glories Nocturne in G minor Op.148/1 (1917) Tempo di Valse Op.163/10 (1918) Basso Ostinato Op.179/14 (1920) Caprice in C minor Op.136/1 (1913) Roundel Op. 132/4 (1912) Ballade in G minor Op. 170 (1919) Waltz in D minor Op. 178/2 (pub.1923) Ballade in F major Op. 148/2 (1917) Scherzo Marziale Op.148.3 (1917) Caprice in D minor Op.136/2 (1913) Toccata in C minor Op. 136/2 (1912) Sarabande Op. 2/2 (1875) Gigue Op. 2/3 (1875) Addio Op. 179/24 (1920) Christopher Howell (piano) SHEVA 019

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Christopher Howell’s latest disc of Stanford’s piano.
In an email the pianist had “suggested to me that, in the early nineteen-seventies, it was a dangerous thing to admit to liking the music of Charles Villiers Stanford. I agree with him totally. When I discovered that Parry and Stanford had composed some twelve symphonies between them, I remember telling a school-friend that I would love to hear them. In those days I presumed that I never would. He ridiculed me and suggested that I should concentrate on Mahler and Bruckner and ignore this second-rate English stuff. I did not take his advice.”

“British music enthusiasts have not been well-served by pianists electing to play Stanford’s music. I seem to recall an old Pearl LP that had a selection of Parry’s Shulbrede Tunes and Stanford’s Three Rhapsodies played by John Parry. And then there were two CDs of music by Peter Jacobs, who recorded both sets of Preludes and the Dante Rhapsodies. But I guess that if you blinked, these offerings would have been missed. Certainly there seems to be little in the CD catalogue today, and rarely, if ever have I seen notice of a piano recitalist playing any pieces by Stanford. So this disc is really my introduction to the whole range of his piano music. And I imagine the same will be true for most other enthusiasts of his music”.

I was fortunate in being able to use another of the pianists short anecdotes:- “he wrote to me that “The owner of Sheva, Ermanno De Stefani, had never heard of Stanford before [making this recording] but has been a lifelong fan of British culture generally and made the rather encouraging comment as we listened to the final edit of the D minor Caprice that "really, one listens to this more willingly than Brahms. It has the same fullness without being clumsy". I don't think even I would invite ridicule by making quite such a claim! I find, though, that Italians generally like Stanford when given a chance”.
Hmm. I have already made the same claim as the Italian ‘signore’ – in more than one forum. I hope I survive”.

Please read the full review of this fantastic CD on MusicWeb International

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