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Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)
Cello Concerto in D minor (1879-1880) [27:36]
Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat, Op.171 (orch. Geoffrey Bush) (1919) [37:43]
Alexander Baillie (cello); Malcolm Binns (piano)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Nicolas Braithwaite
rec. details not given
LYRITA SRCD.321 [65:23]



Other companies would have flinched from including two totally unknown works on one disc. Most would have dropped one of the two and dashed for the safety of buttressing the familiar with the unfamiliar. Not Lyrita. Instead they give us two meaty concertos. The cello work is early while the piano work is from five years short of the composer’s death when fashion had turned its face against Stanford and Parry.
 
The Cello Concerto is in the same league as the later Dvořák concerto with a first movement ripe with surging energy and some really dramatic writing for the brass. The Molto Adagio glows with gracious lyricism and while the manner might be familiar from Dvořák and even Brahms the listening experience is fresh and full of intriguing detail. A noble allegretto reminded me at times of Dvořák 8 and at others very strongly of the Brahms Violin Concerto. It’s a delightful work and an early crowning glory for this composer.
 
The Third Piano Concerto survived only in two piano score. Because the full score could not be found Geoffrey Bush - who did so much for Stanford’s music and reputation – did the orchestration. This time the stormy-heroic manner leans more noticeably towards Brahms; nothing untoward in that. I found myself thinking of the gymnastic euphoria of Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto in the first and last of the three movements. The middle movement – a Larghetto – includes extensive calm solo episodes for the piano with gentle interventions from the orchestra; these return most touchingly in the finale. This is a very optimistic work radiating smiling confidence.
 
The notes (in English only) by Lewis Foreman are well up to his usual high standards in terms of content and readability.
 
Do have also have a look at John France’s excellent review. I have tried to adopt a different approach here.
 
Two works that add invaluably to the repertoire.
 
Rob Barnett

see also review by John France

Also available on Lyrita
SRCD.219 STANFORD Piano Concerto No. 2; Irish Rhapsody No. 4; Funeral March

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