Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Cello Concerto in D minor (1880) [25:42]
Rondo in F major for cello and orchestra (1869) [8:32]
Ballata and Ballabile op. 160 (1918) [19:14]
Irish Rhapsody No. 3 op. 137 (1913) [16:36]
Gemma Rosefield (cello)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Manze
rec. Candleriggs, Glasgow, 6-7 Jan 2011. DDD
HYPERION CDA67859 [70:08]
Hyperion is the home of the Romantic Concerto. Their Romantic Piano Concerto discs are approaching the high fifties in volume count. Their counterparts for Violin and Cello are still within the first ten; give them time. This is their third selection of Romantic Cello Concertos preceded by CDA 67544 (Dohnanyi, Enescu, d'Albert) and CDA 67583 (Volkmann, Dietrich, Gernsheim, Schumann).
Hyperion are no stranger to Stanford as a composer and must be counted the lead voice outside the symphonies which are a Chandos domain with a speckle from Naxos supplemented by yet more from Lyrita.
What Hyperion have done here is to give us all four of Stanford's pieces for cello and orchestra. The Cello Concerto is a glowingly serious romantic work triangulated within coordinates established by Dvor(ák and Brahms. The writing is delightfully pointed and fresh; no suggestion that these are tired facsimiles. That's certainly not what Rosefield does. She seems really to enjoy the writing - sample the happy finale of the concerto. It's the concerto’s second recording although on Lyrita it is differently coupled. Baillie is just as strong a contender for the laurels and his version is also eminently paired with the Stanford Piano Concerto No. 3. The Rondo from a decade earlier reminds me a little of Saint-Saëns concert miniatures. The wonderfully entitled diptych that is the Ballata and Ballabile is from 1918. The Ballata is swooningly, yet not spinelessly, lyrical while the Ballabile is typically bright-eyed and carefree in its singing unclouded vitality. The Irish Rhapsody No. 3 is part of his sequence of six such works two of which including this one include a solo part - No. 6 is for violin and orchestra; all six can be heard on Chandos having originally been paired with the symphonies across seven discs in the 1980s – now in their own box (CHAN9279(4)). The Third Rhapsody is a work of centred and plangent melancholy again in a broadly Dvor(ákian vein. There’s unobtrusive and benevolent use of some traditional melodies. Among many such listen out for a touching episode for soloistic woodwind, cello and the harp at 4.17. The orchestral contribution is well up to the mark. It so happens that Manze’s cycle of the Brahms symphonies has just been issued on CPO (777 7202).
The thorough and readable notes are by Stanford expert, Jeremy Dibble.
Whenever I am reviewing a cello concerto disc I put in a plea for two works that have not as yet made it to commercial recording - first the John Foulds Cello Concerto (based on his toweringly powerful cello sonata and now soon to appear on Dutton) and Florent Schmitt's glorious triptych for cello and orchestra: Introit, Récit et Congé. How long?
Do not miss this smoothly fervent Stanford collection. It’s originally conceived and brilliantly executed.
Rob Barnett
Originally conceived and executed … smoothly fervent.

See also review by Michael Cookson