Challenge
String Quartets Nos 1 & 2
Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet

String Quartets Nos 1 & 2

CD | Helios | 0034571154596 | CDH 55459 | 07-14

About the album

Think of Stanford and the genre of the string quartet probably won’t come to mind. But he composed no fewer than eight such works over a twenty-eight year period, inspired by his friendship with the great violinist Joseph Joachim. Stanford had already composed a number of large-scale chamber works before he began his first string quartet in the summer of 1891, when he was thirty-nine; the second string quartet followed immediately during a burst of dazzling creativity. Both quartets are serious, big-boned works that show Stanford’s mastery of the idiom and ability as a contrapuntist, although they generally display textures that are lighter and more transparent than the thicker palette of Brahms (with whom Stanford is sometimes compared). These delightful works also reveal Stanford’s love of song and lyricism. Throughout, the RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet plays with a rare sensitivity and a natural eloquence.
The Horn Fantasy—a later work, dating from 1922—is dramatic, compelling and flawlessly written for the genre (a rare combination of instruments and quite possibly composed as a tribute to Mozart, whom Stanford greatly admired), and it is superbly played by Stephen Stirling.
All works are here recorded for the first time.

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Tracklisting
    • 1
      String Quartet No. 1 in G Major, Op. 44:
      I. Allegro assai
       
      08:50
      Composer: Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
    • 2
      String Quartet No. 1 in G Major, Op. 44:
      II. Poco allegro e grazioso – Presto – Tempo I – Presto – Tempo I
       
      04:38
      Composer: Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
    • 3
      String Quartet No. 1 in G Major, Op. 44:
      III. Largo con molto espressione
       
      10:07
      Composer: Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
    • 4
      String Quartet No. 1 in G Major, Op. 44:
      IV. Allegro molto
       
      05:32
      Composer: Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
    • 5
      String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 45:
      I. Molto moderato – Più moto – Tempo I – Più moto – Tempo I
       
      09:40
      Composer: Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
    • 6
      String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 45:
      II. Prestissimo
       
      02:36
      Composer: Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
    • 7
      String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 45:
      III. Andante espressivo
       
      07:29
      Composer: Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
    • 8
      String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 45:
      IV. Allegro molto
       
      07:30
      Composer: Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
    • 9
      Fantasy for Horn Quintet in A Minor
       
      11:48
      Composer: Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
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