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Stanford: Songs Of The Sea, Etc / Hickox, Et Al


Release Date: 06/27/2006 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 5043   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Charles Villiers Stanford
Performer:  Gerald Finley
Conductor:  Richard Hickox
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of WalesBBC National Chorus of Wales
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This album received the 2006 Gramophone magazine "Editor's Choice" award.
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

R E V I E W S

Wow! This may very well find itself on my year-end Want List. It is difficult to choose a highlight here, though the almost operatic The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet might take the honors. A setting of an epic poem of Tennyson, telling a story of naval commander Sir Richard Grenville and his doomed battle with a Spanish fleet in 1591, this work has everything. It is tuneful, colorful, brilliantly dramatic, and, in the end, affectingly tragic. Stanford portrays with hushed beauty the death of Grenville and the ultimate
Read more sinking of the ship (The Revenge) after the Spanish had taken it over—and the battle music itself is rip-roaring.

The other two works are settings of poems of Henry Newbolt, and both repay re-hearings with plenty of dividends. The music is evocative of the sea without being obvious or heavy-handed. At times the music recalls sea shanties; at more serious moments, one is even reminded of some of Brahms’s choral writing. There is enough variety of color and mood to hold the attention firmly throughout. The music is not particularly complex—and those who insist on complexity might find it wanting on those grounds, but on my third time through I kept hearing lovely new touches in these score.

The performances are committed and energetic. At times, one might wish for a bit more tonal body from the chorus, but that’s a minor shortcoming. They sing in tune, together, with good blend, and with ferocious energy. The orchestra plays very well and Hickox paces the music in such a way that you don’t even think about whether his tempo choices are the right ones. There is perfect logic and momentum to the performances. Finley (who appears in Songs of the Fleet and Songs of the Sea) is perfectly cast in this music.

Chandos’s sound is, as one has come to expect, reverberant but not muddy—at least as heard in traditional stereo. This is a hybrid CD, with a standard stereo layer and an SACD multichannel layer that I did not hear. Chandos’s notes are thorough, well written, and very informative, and complete texts are supplied. Anyone who enjoys the choral music of the 19th century is likely to find this disc extremely satisfying.

FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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Works on This Recording

1.
Songs of the Fleet, Op. 117 by Charles Villiers Stanford
Performer:  Gerald Finley (Baritone)
Conductor:  Richard Hickox
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales,  BBC National Chorus of Wales
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1910; England 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
2.
The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet, Op. 24 by Charles Villiers Stanford
Conductor:  Richard Hickox
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales,  BBC National Chorus of Wales
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; England 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
3.
Songs (5) of the sea, Op. 91 by Charles Villiers Stanford
Performer:  Gerald Finley (Baritone)
Conductor:  Richard Hickox
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales,  BBC National Chorus of Wales
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; England 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 

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