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