Already acclaimed as a composer of choral music, Stanford came relatively late to the string quartet form, composing his first two at the age of 39 in 1891. Six more followed over the next three decades, including the Op. 122 String Quartet, No. 6 in 1910.
This final volume features the early String Quartets, Opp. 44 (No. 1) and 45 (No. 2) which share a concern for meticulous use of individual instrument voices and a leaning towards lyricism. Allusions to Beethoven and Mozart are contained within Stanford’s own beautifully crafted music.
Heard here in its premiere recording, the Sixth String Quartet is a work of rich contrasts, restless energy and some of Stanford’s most expressive writing for the medium.
Authoritative booklet notes are provided by Stanford expert, Jeremy Dibble.
Volume I (SOMMCD 0160) was admired as “an excellent disc in every respect” (MusicWeb International), applauded as “most enterprising and thoroughly likeable” (Classical Ear) and acclaimed “a really worthwhile release” (Gramophone).
Volume II (SOMMCD 0185) was described as “essential listening… SOMM and the Dantes have broken important new ground with impressive commitment” by Gramophone and by Limelight as being “played with great élan and sensitivity by the excellent Dante Quartet”.
SOMM’s championing of Stanford’s chamber music will be completed by new recordings of his String Quintets Nos. 1 and 2 which are scheduled for release in late 2020.
On This Recording
String Quartet No. 1
- 1. Allegro assai
- 2. Poco allegro e grazioso - Presto - Tempo I - Presto - Tempo I
- 3. Largo con molto espressione
- 4. Allegro molto String Quartet No. 2
- 1. Molto moderato - Più moto - Tempo I - Più moto - Tempo I
- 2. Prestissimo
- 3. Andante espressivo
- 4. Allegro molto String Quartet No. 6*
- 1. Allegro molto moderato
- 2. Andante quasi Lento
- 3. Allegro scherzando
“the Dante Quartet… ensure a maximum quotient of excitement. … The cycle of Stanford’s Quartets has now been completed in excellent style.” —Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
“Hats off, folks: the completion of the first full recorded cycle of Stanford’s string quartets deserves a moment of acknowledgement. … the more you listen to this music, the more distinctively Stanford’s own voice emerges. The way he uses pizzicato and tremolando to lighten the texture, as well as to add colour; the sudden flashes of wit, and above all, the warmth and lyrical impulse that’s never far from the surface… Few can have more experience of Stanford’s style than the Dante Quartet, and as with previous releases in this series, their performances go far beyond mere read-throughs. They’re ardent, alert and thorougly lived in. The Dantes have a flair for Stanford’s moments of musical storytelling… Each of the three performances generates its own momentum, creating a sense of each work’s coherent musical narrative. If you’ve collected the set – or just want to explore – there’s no need to hesitate.” —Richard Bratby, Gramophone