Charles Stanford's First Symphony may not break any new ground -- don't expect the English equivalent of Brahms much less Mahler -- but the composer was not only young but English and thus with few native models to draw on. Far more important than originality, this First shows Stanford to be a remarkably self-assured composer confidently filling the canvas of the four-movement late Romantic symphony with heroic themes, affecting interludes, dramatic developments, and triumphant perorations. If his First does not attain the mastery of the composer's six later symphonies, it is still a remarkable achievement, and this recording by David Lloyd-Jones and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra does it full justice. Each movement is well-argued and well-characterized, and the work sounds like a unified whole. Lloyd-Jones has previously delivered strong performances of Stanford's later symphonies and this one is no less persuasive. Coupled with a mellow reading of the same composer's Clarinet Concerto played to sun-ripened perfection by Robert Plane, this disc will surely please the composer's advocates and may win him new fans. Naxos' digital sound is smooth, deep, and colorful.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Symphony No. 1 in B flat major|
|Clarinet Concerto in A minor, Op. 80|