The RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet, with the support of Garth Knox (viola) and Piers Lane (piano), continue their excellent survey of Stanford’s neglected chamber works with this recording of his String Quintet No 1 and Piano Quintet.
Growing up in his native Dublin in the 1850s and ’60s, Stanford was no stranger to high-quality chamber music, even if visits to Ireland’s capital by pre-eminent executants of the genre were sporadic. As a teenager he recalled with affection and excitement the solo recitals of Anton Rubinstein, Sigismund Thalberg and Charles Hallé, and string players such as Camillo Sivori, Ludwig Straus, Henry Vieuxtemps, Alfredo Piatti and of course Joseph Joachim, a friend of his father.
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Stanford’s passion and mastery of the idiom are evident in the substantial catalogue of chamber music he produced throughout his life. His invigorating Piano Quintet dates from 1886 and transports its audience from melancholy introspection (the first two movements are in minor keys) to extrovert joy and optimism; the buoyant, richly scored String Quintet No 1—declared by Parry to be an ‘admirable piece of work’—introduces elaborate ornamental figurations resembling traditional Irish singing. Read less