Stanford: Piano Quartet No. 2

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Stanford
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Piano Trio No. 1 in E flat, Op. 35; Piano Quartet No. 2 in C minor, Op. 133; Six Irish Fantasies Nos 3 & 5, Op. 54; Legend
PERFORMER: David Adams (viola); Gould Piano Trio
CATALOGUE NO: 8.572452

Advertisement

Will the real Charles Villiers Stanford please stand up? Sure enough, here they both do. The Stanford who personified the Royal College of Music’s reverence for Brahms is represented by his earlyish First Piano Trio and late Second Piano Quartet. Meanwhile, Stanford the Irish maverick steps forward in style with his violin-and-piano Legend and Irish Fantasies. If only there had been room here for more of these Irish pieces: they’re a delight, with a wry inventiveness (imagine Grieg after several pints of Guinness) whose character is savoured by Lucy Gould’s classy violin-playing.

It’s hard to draw a deeper connection between the apparently un-Teutonic composer who came up with this winsome Irish material, and the one who could absorb himself so fully, and to such a finished technical standard, in the Brahmsian Piano Trio. That said, there’s an individual voice at work in the Trio too, plus superbly clear technique, and an attractive strand of Dvoπák in soulful Dumka mode to suffuse the Allegretto con moto slow movement.

Advertisement

The style of the later, unpublished Piano Quartet, edited from Stanford’s manuscript by Jeremy Dibble, is very similar, if a notch fuller and darker. Throw in the state-of-the-art performances, and this is a pleasing disc indeed. Malcolm Hayes