One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Buy through MusicWeb for £11.00 postage paid World-wide. Try it on Sale or Return

Purchase this disc

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)
Irish Rhapsody No. 4 in A minor, Op. 141a (1913) [18’52]. Becket, Op. 48 (1893) - Funeral March, ‘The Martyrdomb [6’45]. Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 126c (1911) [37’32].
cMalcolm Binns (piano); abLondon Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult; cLondon Symphony Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite;.
No rec. info. Rec. of Piano Concerto No. 2 made in association with RVW Trust. ADD

The fourth Irish Rhapsody (of six) is a hauntingly atmospheric piece. The score is headed with the line, ‘The Fisherman of Lough Neagh and what he saw’. The cor anglais solos of the opening section are beautifully played in this recording (representing Lough Neagh in the morning mist) and the later ‘Allegro alla marcia’ has real life. Orchestral balance is miraculous and Braithwaite’s sense of the music’s flow is perfect. The music rises to a rousing conclusion.

All in all, this performance makes one keen to hear the other Irish Rhapsodies (Nos. 3 and 6 of which, by the way, are mini-concertos for cello and violin respectively). Vernon Handley’s performance with the Ulster Orchestra on Chandos brings competition, yet this Lyrita will not disappoint. It would in fact make sense to own both, as Handley’s mid-price Chandos two-disc set includes all of the Irish Rhapsodies (unfortunately it also duplicates the Second Piano Concerto – CHAN10116X).

The ‘Funeral March’ comes from music for Tennyson’s tragedy Becket (Tennyson had made a point of requesting that Stanford write the music for his play). If we are to believe Geoffrey Bush’s booklet notes, the opening may well represent the Archbishop being attacked – it is certainly significantly more violent than anything that follows. Boult conducts this with his customary care, presenting the long lines with a direct approach that avoids any hint of cloying sentimentality.

The Second Piano Concerto begins like Rachmaninov in its swirls of arpeggios – it is no coincidence, surely, that Stanford was the conductor of the British premiere of Rachmaninov’s Second Concerto at the Leeds Festival in 1910. Here, Malcolm Binns is rather bangy in his approach to the first movement, contrasting with the LSO’s rather more suave take on things. The recording, too, does not seem to flatter the piano.

The second movement (Adagio molto) fares much better. Lyrical and highly Romantic (just listen to those Rachmaninovian cello gestures!), there is much tenderness in evidence here. This lyricism spills over into parts of the finale, to contrast with its more viscerally exciting moments. Binns manages to find delicacy in the finale also.

This is an invaluable Stanford collection. The Irish Rhapsody No. 4 is a marvellous discovery.
Colin Clarke

The Lyrita catalogue


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk Acousmatic Music


October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus


Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.