Charles Villiers STANFORD
(1852-1924) Piano Music - Land of Sunset Glories Nocturne in G minor, Op.148/1 (1917) [7:27] Tempo di Valse,Op.163/10 (1918) [1:19] Basso Ostinato,Op.179/14 (1920) [2:52] Caprice in C minor, Op.136/1 (1913) [4:24] Roundel, Op. 132/4 (1912) [3:09] Ballade in G minor, Op. 170 (1919) [8:22] Waltz in D minor, Op. 178/2 (pub.1923) [2:33] Ballade in F major, Op. 148/2 (1917) [7:22] ScherzoMarziale, Op.148/3 (1917) [4:04] Caprice in D minor, Op.136/2 (1913) [9:40] Toccata in C minor, Op. 132/6 (1912) [1:52] Sarabande, Op. 2/2 (1875) [3:16] Gigue, Op. 2/3 (1875) [2:04] Addio, Op. 179/24 (1920) [4:30]
Christopher Howell (piano)
rec. 28-29 July 2008, Studio L’Eremo, Lessona, Italy. DDD
SHEVA 019 [63:36]
With this disc Christopher Howell investigates a necessarily
targeted selection of Stanford's piano music. Care has been
taken to cover a range of the oeuvre and he has not been neglectful
of some of the earlier works either - specifically the Sarabande
and the Gigue from Op.2. The result is a faithful reflection,
and a good conspectus, of a side of Stanford's work-list with
which most casual listeners will be unfamiliar.
In the Nocturne Howell captures its pensive tone as well
as those moments of Celtic lyricism that course through its
musical veins - tinged as they are with Chopinesque runs; all
this makes for a fine opener, as the piece does exert a strong
and decisive, veiled and melancholic allure. The Tempo di
Valse meanwhile has a rather generic though not unattractive
charm. Rather more individual in this respect is the baldly
titled but engaging Basso Ostinato which has a swelling
grandeur but also a discernable ambiguity that adds to its attractiveness.
In general these are concise works, some taken from cycles, though
occasionally Stanford can be led into an over-familiar loquaciousness
- I find the Caprice in C minor, written just before
the First World War, somewhat guilty in that respect.
In contra-distinction one of the most impressive of all these
pieces is the Ballade in G minor, Op. 170 which is constructed
with seamless control, delightfully flecked with limpid, almost
folkloric moments and a strong sense of vocalised lyricism.
The other Ballade, in F major, is similarly reflective
and lyric, though its generosity of spirit is not quite as distinctive,
and it coheres a little too much to the Brahms-Schumann-Russian
sphere of influence. In the Caprice in D minor Stanford
summons up harp-like runs; this Caoine is a most attractive
opus, played with especial refinement. Of the two early pieces,
the Gigue us particularly zestful.
Certainly Stanford's influences are apparent, at least in part,
and this has been a constant theme in appreciation of his music
- or indeed the denigrating of it. These piano pieces will not
change that critical vector. We might want recordings of the
complete Opp. 163 and 179 in which Stanford constructed
his own '48'. In the meantime this hour-long selection proves
from previous months Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the
discs reviewed. details We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to
which you refer.