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Symphonies Nos. 4 and 7


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Product Details

  • Performer: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra ; David Lloyd-Jones
  • Composer: Stanford Sir Charles Villiers
  • Audio CD (May 29 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ncl
  • ASIN: B000NTPALM
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #190,500 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J Scott Morrison TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 29 2007
Format: Audio CD
This CD is labeled 'Volume 1' and so we can assume that it is the first in a series that will comprise all the symphonies of Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924), in direct competition when completed with the fine set of the symphonies done by Vernon Handley and the Ulster Symphony on the Chandos label. One advantage of the present Naxos recording and its anticipated companions is that they are a bit less costly and a good deal more recent than the Chandos set. Beyond that, though, this recording of Stanford's Fourth and Seventh Symphonies bodes well for the complete set to follow because these are beautifully performed and recorded by the Bournemouth Symphony under David Lloyd-Jones.

Stanford's Fourth Symphony is a large 40+ minute four-movement work that is brilliantly scored -- lightly and transparently, making it sound at times more like Mendelssohn than Brahms -- and cogently constructed. It is melodious, even folksy in spots, but has its moments -- especially in the slow movement -- of real depth of feeling. There is no question but what Stanford sounds more German than British, but of course that is not all bad. Yes, it is conservative for its time, but that makes little difference to a listener 120 years after its composition. The Seventh Symphony, Stanford's last, was written in 1911 and it is hard to imagine that it came into the world at almost precisely the same time as Elgar's Second Symphony or, even more, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. But it is a beautiful thing nonetheless. Clearly Stanford had not changed much with the times and thus he wrote this even more Mendelssohnian work with hardly a trace of anything that couldn't have been written fifty years earlier.
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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Two Handsome British Symphonies June 29 2007
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This CD is labeled 'Volume 1' and so we can assume that it is the first in a series that will comprise all the symphonies of Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924), in direct competition when completed with the fine set of the symphonies done by Vernon Handley and the Ulster Symphony Sir Charles Villiers Stanford: Symphonies 1-7 on the Chandos label. One advantage of the present Naxos recording and its anticipated companions is that they are a bit less costly and a good deal more recent than the Chandos set. Beyond that, though, this recording of Stanford's Fourth and Seventh Symphonies bodes well for the complete set to follow because these are beautifully performed and recorded by the Bournemouth Symphony under David Lloyd-Jones.

Stanford's Fourth Symphony is a large 40+ minute four-movement work that is brilliantly scored -- lightly and transparently, making it sound at times more like Mendelssohn than Brahms -- and cogently constructed. It is melodious, even folksy in spots, but has its moments -- especially in the slow movement -- of real depth of feeling. There is no question but what Stanford sounds more German than British, but of course that is not all bad. Yes, it is conservative for its time, but that makes little difference to a listener 120 years after its composition. The Seventh Symphony, Stanford's last, was written in 1911 and it is hard to imagine that it came into the world at almost precisely the same time as Elgar's Second Symphony or, even more, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. But it is a beautiful thing nonetheless. Clearly Stanford had not changed much with the times and thus he wrote this even more Mendelssohnian work with hardly a trace of anything that couldn't have been written fifty years earlier. The first movement has that fairy lightness so associated with Mendelssohn and if nothing else it reminds us of the enormous influence the immigrant German had on the music of the imperial isle. The symphony continues in this genial manner through four movements lasting less than thirty minutes. The only thing remotely English about it is that it does seem pastoral like much English music of its era.

David Lloyd-Jones is a conductor who has proven his abilities over the years with treasurable recordings of music by such early twentieth-century British composers as Delius, Bax, Moeran and Alwyn. The Bournemouth Symphony clearly have the measure of these two symphonies and perform them eloquently and with conviction of their worth.

This recording is for those who like music of the Brahms/Schumann/Mendelssohn ambit and are interested in branching out a bit. They will not be disappointed.

Scott Morrison
expert but emotionally limited March 3 2013
By Stanley Crowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I agree with just about everything the other reviewer, Scott Morrison, has written, but I'm giving this one star fewer than he. First, the positive elements in these performances: the orchestral playing seems to me very accomplished, and the Naxos engineers have largely done it justice. The strings sound wonderful, whether playing loud or soft, and the woodwinds, which feature prominently in both symphonies, but especially in the Fourth, are excellent. I could wish for a bit more "presence" in the sound -- a little more like Chandos provides for Vernon Handley -- but I can't really say that I can't hear what's there to be heard. So, credit too to David Lloyd-Jones, for eliciting that lovely sound. I agree with Morrison too that Mendelssohn seems to be the model here (whether consciously or not). The liner notes reference Brahms, Schumann, and Mendelssohn, but there's none of Schumann's emotional extravagance and none of the knotty denseness with which Brahms works out his material. And even Mendelssohn, in the last movement of the "Scottish," for example, gives us something more arousing than Stanford provides. I'm most taken by the Fourth Symphony, which I would stress despite my comments above is NOT boring. It's very well constructed and beautifully orchestrated -- in other words, a thoroughly professional job. But in the movements the themes are too alike in character to set up any drama in the development. The first movement of the Fourth starts with an appealing toe-tapping spring, and is followed by a lovely undulating theme, which, however, seems to grow out of the first than set up a strong contrast with it. The toe-tapping takes on a more dance-like character in the beginning of the fourth movement and leads to a lively conclusion. The third is the most engaging movement (and the longest) with an agitato quality to its opening theme that is found nowhere else in the symphony, and in that movement we have the two most involving climaxes in the whole piece. The Seventh Symphony is about 13 minutes shorter -- for me its highlights are the lovely and ingeniously scored variations in the third movement, although the other movements are accomplished but not very emotionally engaging. For all my reservations, though, I would pay money to hear a live performance of the Fourth.

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