Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
String Quartet No.2 a minor, Op.45
"Charles Villiers Stanford, one of Britain's most respected composers, finished his first two fine string quartets in 1891. As good as the First Quartet is, the Second is better yet. All four movements are tied together by the opening theme of the first movement, which subsequently makes appearances in each of the following movements. Although showing the influence of Mendelssohn, the quartet is in no way derivative and can be judged on its own merits. The first movement,is in two parts: A slow introduction Molto moderato, wherein the Motif is given out, followed by the main section Piu moto. The treatment of the two themes is quite plastic and truly outstanding. The second movement, Prestissimo, has a sharp, somewhat dry theme while the trio is clothed by a fine melody. Perhaps the work's center of gravity is the slow movement, Andante espressivo. The motif is given a peaceful, and extraordinarily beautiful treatement. The stormy middle section makes a very strong impression. The energetic main theme of the finale, Allegro molto, is at once playful but also somewhat spooky. Toward the very end, just before the exciting coda, the motif appears one last time.` ---Esteemed Chamber Music Critic Wilhelm Altmann.
Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) was without question one of Britain's most important 19th and early 20th century composers. He was fortunate in being able to study under two of the leading teachers of his day: Carl Reinecke in Leipzig and Friedrich Kiel in Berlin. Upon his return to England, he helped found an English national style and contributed to the renaissance of British music. This was particularly true in the realm of chamber music where Stanford almost single-handedly jump-started the British repertoire. Among his many students were Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, Herbert Howells, Frank Bridge, Ernst Moeran, Arthur Bliss, and Percy Grainger. During his lifetime, he and his compositions were held in the highest regard. After his death, he was unfairly attacked for having been too heavily influenced by Brahms.
This quartet is a first rate work from start to finish which definitely belongs in the repertoire and would no doubt be there if it the composer had been German. And amateurs will find it greatly to their taste as well. Out of print for a very long time, we are pleased to make it available once again.