Hyperion Records

String Quintet No 1 in F major, Op 85
21 April 1903; written for the Joachim Quartet; first performed by the Kruse Quartet and E Tomlinson at St James's Hall on 11 January 1904

'Stanford: Piano Quintet & String Quintet No 1' (CDH55434)
Stanford: Piano Quintet & String Quintet No 1
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55434  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
Movement 1: Allegro
Track 5 on CDH55434 [8'27] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Movement 2: Andante
Track 6 on CDH55434 [6'57] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Movement 3: Allegretto
Track 7 on CDH55434 [11'59] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)

String Quintet No 1 in F major, Op 85
Stanford's two string quintets Opp 85 and 86 were intended for performance by Joachim and his quartet colleagues. The String Quintet No 1 in F major Op 85 was finished in Malvern (where Stanford often holidayed) on 21 April 1903. The publishing company of Houghton and Co made the work available in parts (a more commercially feasible option often practised by publishers) but the score remained in manuscript. A set was sent to Joachim who was informed by the composer that the String Quintet No 2 in C minor, Op 86, was also being written ‘as a little tribute’ to the violinist’s sixtieth visit to England. The String Quintet No 1 was given its premiere by the Kruse Quartet with E Tomlinson (second viola) at a Popular Concert at St James’s Hall on 11 January 1904. Parry, who was often critical of Stanford’s music, called it an ‘admirable piece of work’. This and the Second Quintet (which was performed by the Joachim Quartet, first in Berlin and later in London on 5 May 1904) were among the last of Stanford’s works to be heard at St James’s Hall before it was demolished in 1905 (much to Stanford’s chagrin) to make way for the Piccadilly Hotel.

Conceived in three movements (like Brahms’s String Quintet No 1, Op 88, in the same key), the First Quintet begins with a buoyant, flowing, exultant Allegro, full of warmth and rich scoring (here, as in his orchestral scoring, Stanford shows a felicity gleaned largely from Mendelssohn, which so clearly distinguishes his style from the heavier manner of Brahms). The Andante drew critical attention for its assimilation of Irish traditional music. Drawing its elaborate ornamental figurations from the old style of singing from the south-west of Ireland (now referred to as ‘sean nós’), the movement is a lament which demands a good deal of rubato and liberal treatment of the metre. ‘[Kruse] played it very “free”’, Stanford pointed out to Joachim ‘and I think it gained by it greatly.’ Stanford elected to merge the scherzo and finale into one larger superstructure whose construction was governed by an overarching scheme of a theme and variations. The third movement itself consists of a series of expanding variations that moves from F major through D minor to D major. This shift to D facilitates an unexpected reprise of the slow movement which is restated almost operatically (Stanford marks it ‘quasi recit.’) above a tremolando accompaniment. After the memory of the lament has receded, the first viola breaks into a much more extended sonata movement in 9/8 time (characteristic of the ‘hop jig’) whose primary material is based on the original theme of the Andante. This is the finale proper and functions cleverly in several ways: first, it provides a fitting conclusion to the larger variation scheme; secondly, it functions subtly as a recapitulation of the F–D dialectic established in the earlier variations; and thirdly, it affords a telling conclusion to the broader architectonic contrast of the first two movements (also in F major and D minor respectively), a relationship Stanford surely wished us to grasp through two further allusions to the lament theme of the second movement in the recapitulation and coda.

from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2005

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDH55434 track 7
Recording date
19 November 2004
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
  1. Stanford: Piano Quintet & String Quintet No 1 (CDA67505)
    Disc 1 Track 7
    Release date: November 2005
    Deletion date: July 2010
    Superseded by CDH55434
  2. Stanford: Piano Quintet & String Quintet No 1 (CDH55434)
    Disc 1 Track 7
    Release date: July 2013
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
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