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Hyperion Records

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Harvesting at Pangbourne on Thames (detail) by Henry Parker (1858-1930)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDH55459
Recording details: September 2003
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: February 2005
Total duration: 11 minutes 47 seconds

'These exemplary first recordings make the best possible case for all this rare material; sound and balance are first-class, too. A strongly recommendable issue, in sum, extensively annotated by Jeremy Dibble. Can we expect further instalments?' (Gramophone)

'These beautifully crafted and attractive string quartets, clearly indebted to Brahms and Mendelssohn, receive highly committed performances. The Fantasy for Horn and String Quartet, one of Stanford's last compositions, proves to be an unexpected bonus' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Jeremy Dibble's notes are excellent, as is the recording. On balance, this is a very worth-while issue of first-rate British chamber music which does not deserve the neglect which has befallen it' (International Record Review)

'This is fine music, beautifully played' (The Sunday Times)

'These two quartets are alive with melodic invention and supremely crafted … Stephen Stirling is a sweet-toned soloist alongside the consistently stylish playing of this fine Irish quartet' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The string quartet writing here reveals the composer at his most fecund and imaginative. The highly adept RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet, which hails from Stanford's native Dublin, brings a terrific energy to these appetising works' (The Strad)

'The playing on this new Hyperion release is flawless, and their tonal palette perfect for Stanford's music. Stephen Stirling's horn in the Fantasy is warm and glowing. This is very highly recommended, and with a plea to the Vanbrugh and Hyperion for Stanford's remaining six quartets' (Fanfare, USA)

'If Stanford's other six [quartets] are as good as the two recorded here, unbelievably for the first time, they are all long overdue for revival' (Birmingham Post)

Fantasy for Horn Quintet in A minor
6 June 1922

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
It is presently not known for whom the Fantasy for Horn Quintet in A minor, completed on 6 June 1922, was composed, or whether it ever received a public performance (though it may have been intended for students at the Royal College of Music). Like its two counterparts for clarinet quintet written only months before (see Helios CDH55076), it follows a design in which elements of the traditional four-movement paradigm are telescoped into one larger structure. In addition, like those models of Schumann and Liszt, the construction depends chiefly on a central thematic strand (such as one hears at the beginning in the cello and horn) which occurs at strategic points in the structure and as a foundation for the derivation of other thematic material. Dramatic, compelling and flawlessly written for the genre (a rare combination of instruments and quite possibly composed as a tribute to Mozart, whom he greatly admired), Stanford’s quintet is yet a further example of the composer’s extraordinary technical savoir faire and his ability to be able to strike a fitting idiomatic equilibrium between instruments of such contrasting capacities.

from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2005

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