Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
of Steve Jones
String Quartet No.3 in d minor, Op.64
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.
String Quartet No.3 dates from 1897 and was dedicated to the Joachim String Quartet with whom he was on friendly terms. The opening movement, Allegro moderato ma appassionato, begins in dramatic fashion but soon lyricism takes over before the hustle and bustle returns. The second movement, Allegretto simplice, has a naive, folkloric quality and serves as a kind of intermezzo. Next comes an Andante quasi fantasia, which is an unusual cross between a legende and a song without words. The finale, Allegro feroce ma non troppo mosso, gets its forward propulsion from its hard driving rhythm.