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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67208
Recording details: June 2000
Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh, Scotland
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: November 2000
Total duration: 28 minutes 18 seconds

'A discovery of major importance. First class … this masterful work speaks with a distinctly beautiful voice and has a perfect advocate in Marwood and the BBC SSO' (Gramophone)

‘Here’s a real find: a major Romantic violin concerto by a British composer. Anthony Marwood is an inspired choice of soloist, with a silvery tone and immaculate intonation. Prepare to be enchanted, by both piece and performance’ (BBC Music Magazine)

'Anthony Marwood gives a blistering account' (The Independent)

'Anthony Marwood's performance is brim-full of intelligence and poetry…[a] splendid concerto' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Rarely have I heard intonation so ringingly true, nor such an affecting chamber-like response with an orchestra in music of this period. This is the kind of playing that one can listen to for pleasure simply because of its ravishing, jewel-like tonal quality…an outstanding release' (International Record Review)

'Anthony Marwood gives a warm, clean-cut reading' (The Guardian)

'These lovely pieces are played most expressively by a sweet-toned Anthony Marwood… Two unexpected gems that deserve to reclaim their place on the concert platform alongside the works of Elgar' (The Independent on Sunday)

'Both works are irresistable, winsome and charming. It won me over instantly; my guess is that you'll surrender just as quickly' (Fanfare, USA)

'A real find … Anthony Marwood is an inspired choice of soloist, with a silvery tone and immaculate intonation. Prepare to be enchanted, by both piece and performance' (CDReview)

Suite for violin and orchestra, Op 32
September 1888

Ouverture  [7'51]
Allemande  [3'24]
Ballade  [6'44]
Tambourin  [3'37]
Rondo Finale  [6'42]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Stanford’s Suite Op 32 is one of numerous Romantic works in which the ‘old’ and ‘new’ are brought together. Indeed, one of the most fascinating aspects of this ‘interaction’ is how far the composer permits one to influence the other, yet, at the same time retaining the dominance of the ‘new’. Stanford had experience of this approach as a student in Leipzig with his Suite for Piano Op 2 (one of his earliest published works, published by Chappell in 1875) which consisted of four dances, a courante, a sarabande and gigue (grouped together) and a final gavotte. But by the time he came to the composition of his violin suite in 1888 there were important orchestral precedents in the form of Grieg’s Aus Holbergs Zeit and Tchaikovsky’s orchestral suites, two composers for whom Stanford had profound admiration. Yet, much as both Grieg and Tchaikovsky may have been influential, Stanford’s real motivation lay in his desire to create a work of homage to Joachim which would stand both as a tribute to his friend’s brilliance as a great virtuoso and musician and as a portrait of Joachim’s musical enthusiams for Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Spohr and Brahms, seen musically through the eyes of his younger Irish admirer.

The first movement is a particularly remarkable example of this musical fusion of ‘old’ and ‘new’ styles. It is apparent in the conflation of ritornello and sonata principles, but perhaps more strikingly in the differentiation of first- and second-group material, the former very much using the Baroque mannerisms of French double-dotted rhythms (the solo opening is surely a depiction of Joachim and his beloved Bach unaccompanied violin sonatas) and the latter an overtly Romantic style, no doubt reminding the listener that Joachim was the dedicatee of Brahms’s Violin Concerto. The ‘Ouverture’ is linked by a modulatory passage of quasi-recitative (in which the dotted rhythms are expunged) to the ‘Allemande’ (in G) which is perhaps reminiscent of Mendelssohn (not least his Violin Concerto which Joachim had played at a precociously young age). Felicitously scored, this delightful miniature more closely follows the traditional binary scheme of its Baroque model, though the full thematic recapitulation and excursion to F major betray its more contemporary roots. The Ballade (in G minor), recalling the rich sonorities of Brahms’s Balladen Op 10, is a poetic, melancholy essay whose extended theme exploits the dark hues of the violin’s G string. This plaintive material flanks a central section of a more euphonious, lyrical character and one which, in the coda, is transformed into Mendelssohnian quicksilver.

The ‘Tambourin’, like its counterpart the ‘Allemande’, is a short interlude of delicate proportions and nimble orchestration. In keeping with the character of the old Provençal dance, Stanford maintains the monotonous rhythm (heard mainly on the timpani) throughout the movement. The unchanging pedal point on D also gives rise to an interesting tonal syntax where the subdominant and submediant play a central role (as opposed to the dominant, which is largely absent) and where Stanford’s chromatic resourcefulness is conspicuous at the climax. The gigue finale, cast in sonata-rondo form, is the most symphonic movement of the suite and the most technically demanding for both soloist and orchestra. Here Stanford’s instrumental technique is shown at its most fluent and imaginative, particularly in the exhilarating central episode (where the solo violin’s legato line is supported by the extraordinarily vigorous texture of the lower strings) and the sparkling coda where the ritornello of the first movement is recalled as a concluding gesture.

from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2000

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