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, 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