As demonstrated by the four world-premiere recordings on this 2011 Naxos release, the chamber music of Charles Villiers Stanford is profoundly obscure, but its obscurity is wholly due to neglect, not to any inferiority of the music that could account for its absence from the repertoire. Aside from the Piano Trio No. 1 in E flat major, which was recorded by the Pirasti Trio and released on ASV in 2001, the remaining works on this disc receive a thorough dusting off by the Gould Piano Trio, which consists of violinist Lucy Gould, cellist Alice Neary, and pianist Benjamin Frith, who perform in the piano trio, and are joined by violist David Adams in the Piano Quartet No. 2 in C minor. Typical of Stanford's style are the expansive forms and long-breathed melodies of noble character, supported throughout by rhythmic gestures and energetic counterpoint, which was strongly by Johannes Brahms. The Piano Trio and the Piano Quartet exude a sweet Romanticism, and the richness of the harmonies and gracefulness of the melodies should win these pieces many more performances. Also quite attractive are the pieces composed for violin and piano, which form the heart of this program. "The Legend," "The Jig," and "Hush Song" from the Six Irish Fantasies are charming parlor pieces that would be appealing on any violin recital. Naxos provides warm and vibrant sound, so this album is an excellent introduction to a body of work that plainly deserves an appreciative audience.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Piano Trio No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 35|
|Six Irish Fantasies, Op. 54|
|Piano Quartet No. 2 in C minor, Op. 133|