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Morning, Communion and Evening Service in B flat, Op 10

first performed in Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge, in 1879
author of text
Book of Common Prayer; Magnificat: Luke 1: 46-55; Nunc dimittis: Luke 2: 29-32

During his time abroad in Leipzig (1875) and Berlin (1876) Stanford preferred to concentrate on secular music which included work on a violin concerto (1875), a symphony (composed for the Alexandra Palace prize in 1876), chamber music, and incidental music for Tennyson’s play, Queen Mary (1876), performed at the Lyceum Theatre. On returning to Cambridge in January 1877 Stanford had already begun to forge a reputation as a brilliant prospect for British music. Trinity College was also conscious of the emerging stature of their young organist and took action to secure his expertise. On 16 May 1877 Stanford was appointed permanent organist (officially from Lady Day) on a salary of £250 per annum. A new contract was also drawn up by the Seniority in which two full weekly practices were instituted and, for the boys, six hours of instruction per week during term time (with a reduction to four hours during the vacation). Choral services took place on Saturdays and Sundays, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the Festival of the Circumcision and Epiphany, and the choir also sang certain grace anthems in Hall. Stanford was resolved to ameliorate the standard of singing at Trinity and during the next fifteen years he sought to weed out old and weakening voices, introduce undergraduate exhibitioners (taking advice from Parratt at Magdalen College, Oxford, and A H Mann at King’s College, Cambridge), and, most importantly, improve the standard of music sung in chapel. This was less straightforward than it appeared. On being appointed as permanent organist in 1877, it was agreed that Stanford and the Precentor, Borissow, would choose (and purchase) the music for chapel jointly (as is evident from the joint signatures in the Trinity music lists). However, this proved to be a contentious plan of action and in 1885 Stanford declined to continue this practice, refusing to append his name to the music lists over which, he claimed, he had no control.

Notwithstanding his frustrating predicament, Stanford did his best to break the monotony of the chapel repertoire. Works such as Gibbons’ Hosanna to the Son of David, Stainer’s I saw the Lord, S S Wesley’s The Wilderness and Brahms’s How lovely are thy dwellings fair were introduced along with Stanford’s own ‘Queen’s’ service. A red-letter day, however, was to be 25 May 1879 when his Jubilate Deo and Te Deum in B flat, Op 10, were first sung at Matins. Later the same year, during the long vacation, the Te Deum was sung again with the Benedictus on the morning of 24 August and the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis were sung in the evening. The Service in B flat, Op 10, marked a major step forward in Stanford’s setting of the morning and evening canticles. As a composer he had fully assimilated the symphonic intellectualism of Brahms as evidenced by his first Symphony (1876), the Cello Sonata, Op 9 (1877), the Violin Sonata, Op 11 (1877), and the Piano Quartet, Op 15 (1879), and looked to adapt this compositional approach to the setting of familiar canticle texts and the ordinary of the communion service. In bringing an instrumental orientation to the music of the Anglican liturgy, Stanford challenged the accepted norm of ‘choral’ primacy where emphasis on the words, the clarity of their delivery, meaning and, most of all, their comprehension was paramount. This is not to say that Stanford (any more than his hero Brahms) ignored the textual dimension—far from it—but other issues, such as the sense of musical and structural cohesion came to warrant equal consideration. To add weight to this change of emphasis, the organ was emancipated from its customary accompanimental role and, building on the example of Walmisley’s Evening Service in D minor, assumed instead one of quasi-orchestral character. This not only suited Stanford’s own colourful style of organ-playing inherited from Stewart, but also exploited the resources of the new instrument at Trinity. A further feature of the Service in B flat is the parallel drawn between the various canticles and conventional symphonic movement style-forms. The Te Deum is, for example, analogous in tempi and treatment to a first-movement Allegro, the Magnificat, a Scherzo (a ternary structure in which the Gloria functions as a recapitulation) and the Nunc dimittis, a slow movement. Other unifying elements include the repetition of the Gloria (in the Benedictus, Jubilate Deo and Nunc dimittis), the cyclic reference to common material and specific tonalities (notably D flat and C major) shared among the individual movements, and, special to the Service in B flat, the prevalence of Gregorian material (for example, the intonation to the Te Deum and the ‘Dresden Amen’ used in the Gloria).

from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 1997

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, qui fut l’un des compositeurs les plus prolifiques de son temps, aborda presque tous les genres musicaux, de l’opéra à la musique de chambre en passant par la symphonie et le concerto. Né à Dublin dans une prospère famille protestante, il étudia à Cambridge et à Leipzig avant d’enseigner la musique à Cambridge et la composition au Royal College of Music. Aujourd’hui, il est presque exclusivement connu pour sa musique chorale sacrée, toujours de haute volée, qui demeure l’un des piliers de la tradition chorale anglicane.

En 1879, Stanford, alors organiste de Trinity College (Cambridge), réunit dans son Service en si bémol op. 10 trois des cantiques pour les matines (Te Deum, Benedictus et Jubilate), le Service de communion et les cantiques de l’Evensong (Magnificat et Nunc dimittis). Comme l’a montré Jeremy Dibble, spécialiste du compositeur, ce service incarna une absolue nouveauté: l’application de la technique symphoniqe brahmsienne à la musique chorale sacrée. D’où un rare degré de cohésion structurelle qui distingue cette œuvre du gros de la musique liturgique de son temps. L’orgue prend, en outre, de l’importance, passant du rôle de simple accompagnateur à celui de protagoniste au caractère orchestral. Pour pousser un peu plus avant l’image symphonique, Dibble suggère de considérer le Te Deum comme un premier mouvement symphonique allegro—confiant et massif mais avec des passages contrastifs d’une grande délicatesse (ainsi le «We therefore pray thee, help thy servants» du quatuor solo)—, le Jubilate et le Magnificat comme le scherzo et le menuet, et le Nunc dimittis comme le mouvement lent, tous étant reliés par une doxologie («Glory be to the Father») pleine de dignité, avec son Amen final de «Dresde», hommage explicite à la tradition allemande.

extrait des notes rédigées par James O'Donnell © 2010
Français: Hypérion

Stanford war einer der produktivsten Komponisten seiner Zeit und schrieb für fast alle Genres, darunter Opern, Kammermusik, Symphonien und Solokonzerte. Er wurde in eine wohlhabende Protestantenfamilie in Dublin hineingeboren, studierte in Cambridge und Leipzig und wirkte später als Musikprofessor in Cambridge und als Professor für Komposition an dem Royal College of Music in London. Heutzutage ist er fast ausschließlich für seine geistlichen Chorwerke bekannt, die durchgehend von hoher Qualität sind und bis heute eine der Hauptstützen der anglikanischen Chortradition sind.

Der Service in B-Dur op. 10 entstand 1879, als Stanford als Organist des Trinity College in Cambridge tätig war und es gibt darin drei Lobgesänge für die Morgenandacht (das Te Deum, Benedictus und Jubilate), den Abendmahlsgottesdienst und die Lobgesänge für die Abendandacht, das Magnificat und Nunc dimittis. Der Stanford-Forscher Jeremy Dibble hat darauf hingewiesen, dass in diesem Service etwas Neues geschieht, nämlich das Verwenden einer Brahms’schen symphonischen Technik in geistlicher Chormusik. Es verleiht dies der Musik einen ungewöhnlich starken strukturellen Zusammenhalt und besondere Bedeutung, was sie von dem Großteil der Kirchenmusik der damaligen Zeit absetzt. Die Orgel nimmt auch eine gewichtigere Rolle an und ist nicht mehr nur für die Begleitung zuständig, sondern tritt als musikalischer Protagonist mit orchestralem Charakter auf. Dibble dehnt die symphonische Metaphorik noch etwas weiter aus und schlägt vor, dass man das Te Deum als einen ersten Satz, als Allegro, einer Symphonie auffassen könnte—es ist selbstbewusst und groß angelegt, weist jedoch auch gegensätzliche Passagen von beträchtlicher Zartheit auf (wie etwa das Soloquartett „Dich bitten wir denn, komm deinen Dienern zu Hilfe“). Ferner könnten das Jubilate als das Scherzo, das Magnificat als Menuett und das Nunc dimittis als der langsame Satz verstanden werden. Alle sind durch eine würdevolle Vertonung der Doxologie („Ehre sei dem Vater“) miteinander verbunden, wobei am Schluss das sogenannte Dresdner Amen zum Einsatz kommt, was explizit der deutschen Tradition Tribut zollt.

aus dem Begleittext von James O'Donnell © 2010


Stanford: Sacred choral music
CDS44311/33CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
The Feast of Saint Peter the Apostle at Westminster Abbey
Canticles from St Paul's
Studio Master: CDA68058Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Stanford and Howells Remembered
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Evensong Live 2019
Studio Master: KGS0038-DDownload onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Evening Canticle 1: Magnificat  My soul doth magnify the Lord
Track 15 on CDA67770 [3'30]
Track 9 on CDA68058 [3'59]
Track 1 on CDS44311/3 CD1 [3'32] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Track 6 on CSCD524 CD1 [3'34] Download only
Evening Canticle 2: Nunc dimittis  Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace
Track 16 on CDA67770 [3'38]
Track 10 on CDA68058 [4'10]
Track 2 on CDS44311/3 CD1 [3'37] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Track 7 on CSCD524 CD1 [3'07] Download only
Track 14 on KGS0038-D [2'57] Download only
Morning Canticle 1: Te Deum  We praise thee, O God
Track 4 on CDA67770 [6'22]
Track 17 on CDS44311/3 CD1 [6'24] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Morning Canticle 2: Jubilate  O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands
Track 5 on CDA67770 [3'17]
Track 16 on CDS44311/3 CD1 [3'14] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

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