STANFORD: Symphonies No. 4 in F, Op. 31; No. 7 in D minor, Op. 124 – Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/ David Lloyd-Jones, conductor – Naxos

by | Dec 7, 2007 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

STANFORD: Symphonies No. 4 in F, Op. 31; No. 7 in D minor, Op. 124 – Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/ David Lloyd-Jones, conductor – Naxos 8.570285, 70:52 ****:

Vernon Handley’s Ulster Orchestra series of Stanford symphonies has been holding down the fort for a long time now. Chandos released it back in 1994 (with many of the symphonies first recorded in 1992), and the composer has sort of been ignored since then. Maybe it’s because the Handleys were so good, I don’t know. But I do know that I was never that fond of the Chandos echo in those days, so the appearance of this disc, labeled as the first volume of what will be a new set of Stanfordiana, is quite a thrill.

And it should be to the general public as well, for these are outstanding symphonic works, romantic, exquisite, soaring tunes, and thoroughly ingratiating all around. The Ulster Orchestra is certainly no slouch, but the Bournemouth surpasses it in almost every way, and Naxos has given it very fine sound, decently back in the hall but close enough to feel a real impact.

23 years divide these two symphonies, and a lot else besides, as the fourth was in the throes of the Romantic age while the seventh (1922) was well in to the modern one. If you but think of all the things that had happened by then, Stanford’s quirky little Mendelssohnian beauty becomes something of an anachronism in the age of the Second Viennese School and post-Rite of Spring activities. He didn’t care—even his compatriots like Elgar had moved way beyond the music he was interested in writing, and he stuck to his guns with fervor. Lucky for us he did, as this is music that sticks to the soul no matter when it was written. Unlike the bold and vigorous No. 4, No. 7 takes us backwards, not forward, and a pleasant trip it is. But you will also revel in the passion of the romantic fourth as well, and at this price, the prospects of a whole series are worth salivating over. Why delay?

— Steven Ritter    

Related Reviews
Logo Pure Pleasure
Logo Apollo's Fire
Logo Crystal Records Sidebar 300 ms
Logo Jazz Detective Deep Digs Animated 01