Hyperion Records

Irish Rhapsody No 3, Op 137
By the time Stanford began composing his Irish Rhapsodies in 1902, he was at the height of his powers as a composer, conductor and teacher. The First Rhapsody Op 78, dedicated to Hans Richter, was hugely successful and remained a favourite of several conductors, including Hamilton Harty who directed it several times. Only this work and the more defiant Fourth Rhapsody Op 141 were published in full score, while the others were left in manuscript (excepting the Sixth Rhapsody Op 191 which was published in piano score only). The Irish Rhapsody No 3 Op 137 was one of two works in the series written for a soloist and orchestra. It was completed on 18 June 1913 but appears not to have been performed during Stanford’s lifetime. Moreover, most of Stanford’s works for soloist and orchestra were intended for a particular performer, but in this case there was none, neither does the manuscript bear any evidence of a dedicatee.

By 1913 much of Stanford’s expression of his Irish identity had adopted a more political mantle. A staunch Unionist and a follower of Craig and Carson, he opposed all thought of Home Rule for Ireland and vehemently supported Ulster’s cause. This is notably overt and deliberate in the Fourth ‘Ulster’ Rhapsody of 1914. By contrast, the Third Rhapsody, which features the cantabile tone of the solo cello, is a more reflective, restrained work, rather melancholy in demeanour. Structured in two parts, the first section, over twice the length of the second, is an introverted, yet deeply melodious, yearning threnody and is conceived very much as an extended ‘song’ in the way it develops the generous three-part phraseology of ‘The Fairy Queen’, a melody he most likely drew from Edward Bunting’s collection of Irish folk tunes of 1796 (and which was ascribed to Carolan, the early eighteenth-century Irish harper and composer). A livelier second section, analogous perhaps to the operatic ‘cavatina-cabaletta’ constructions Stanford knew so well from Italian opera, is a lively Irish jig based on the Munster tune ‘The Black Rogue’ (a double-jig which Stanford included in his edition of the Petrie Collection published between 1902 and 1905 with the title ‘Brigid of the fair hair’). Much of the jig is boisterous in character, yet a shorter, slower section returns nostalgically to the mood of the first section, even making brief reference to its melodic material, before the jig returns to form an energetic conclusion.

from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2011

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA67859 track 7
Recording date
7 January 2011
Recording venue
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon & Dave Rowell
Hyperion usage
  1. Stanford: Cello Concertos (CDA67859)
    Disc 1 Track 7
    Release date: October 2011
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