The 1905 Sixth Symphony, by contrast, received only two hearings before succumbing to an eighty-year oblivion. The subtitle, ‘In honour of the life-work of a great artist: George Frederick Watts’, is important: Watts (1817-1904) was among the most lauded British artists of his era and Stanford’s work, if not overtly programmatic, was influenced by instances of Watt’s legacy – for example the equestrian statue in Kensington Gardens, London.
Completed in 1887, Stanford’s ‘Irish’ Symphony enjoyed immediate and widespread success, continuing to be played well into the twentieth century. The ‘Irish’ subtitle indicates its frequent deployment of folk-tunes as melodic material, although the work never strays far from the Austro-German symphonic tradition.
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Charles Villiers Stanford: Symphony No. 6 in E flat major, Op. 94, "In Memoriam G.F. Watts"
I. Allegro con brio
II. Adagio e molto espressivo
III. Scherzo and Trio: Presto
IV. Moderato e maestoso
Charles Villiers Stanford: Symphony No. 3 in F minor, Op. 28, "Irish"
I. Allegro moderato
II. Allegro molto vivace
III. Andante con moto
IV. Finale: Allegro moderato con fuoco
“In the exceptionally well-filled third volume of their Stanford series, David Lloyd-Jones and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra offer accomplished an sympathetic performances.”
“Completed in 1887, the Irish Symphony enjoyed considerable acclaim both at home and abroad (von Bülow and Richter were early champions, and in 1910 Mahler conducted two performances in New York). After a solidly constructed opening Allegro moderato, the Irish flavour comes to the fore with a disarming hop, skip and jig of a scherzo, followed by a nobly beautiful lament (of markedly Brahmsian hue and framed by some gorgeous harp-writing) and a finale which deploys two folk tunes and ties up the threads in rousingly effective fashion. Lloyd-Jones's is, in fact, the second recording of this lovable creation we've had from Bournemouth and represents a more dynamic and luminous voyage of discovery than its sturdier 1982 predecessor under Del Mar (EMI). Handley's sprightly 1986 Ulster account (Chandos) is arguably more cogent than either but now sounds a little raw next to this judiciously balanced newcomer. Written very quickly in the spring of 1905 as a personal response to the recent death and legacy of the esteemed Victorian artist George Frederick Watts (1817-1904), the Sixth Symphony has fared less happily, receiving a mere two performances until its Belfast revival under Handley some 80 years later. A looser-limbed affair than its lengthier bedfellow here, it still affords a sizeable quotient of incidental pleasures (the glowingly sincere slow movement and consolatory closing pages stand out from their garrulous surroundings). Lloyd-Jones masterminds an affectionate, finely disciplined reading, with tensions kept agreeably on the boil throughout, though again it's Handley (Chandos) who better disguises any architectural shortcomings. No matter, it all adds up to another thoroughly desirable (and, at just over 80 minutes, generous) coupling in this useful series.”
“Another high-quality addition to David Lloyd-Jones's rewarding Stanford cycle.”
24th May 2008
“[These symphonies] could not expect to receive more devoted performances than these: David Lloyd-Jones tends the folk tunes of the Irish with loving care, and the Bournemouth players enjoy the novel instrumental touches in No 6.”