STANFORD: Songs of the Sea with Gerald Finley

STANFORD: The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet, Songs of the Sea, Songs of the Fleet. Gerald Finley, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Chorus, Richard Hickox.

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“…Gerald Finley’s firmly focused, ringing tone is a joy. He doesn’t possess the salty tang of Benjamin Luxon (a true sea-dog if ever I heard one), but the voice is steadier and he sings with unfailing ardour, intelligence and sensitivity. Hickox and his BBC Welsh forces provide exemplary support.” Gramophone, Disc of the Month, July 2006

“Songs “of the Sea – which includes the long-popular ‘Drake’s Drum’ and ‘The Old Superb’ – and the later, texturally richer and more thoughtful Songs of the Fleet are superb baritone vehicles for Gerald Finley… this new Chandos SACD… has impressive presence.” BBC Music Magazine

“Two of Stanford’s catchiest and most popular settings frame his 1904 Songs of the Sea for baritone, male chorus and orchestra: both ‘Drake’s Drum’ and ‘The Old Superb’ are instantly memorable and have alone justly secured the work’s survival. But there’s some terrific music tucked away in the three remaining numbers, not least the marvellously serene ‘Homeward Bound’ with its burnished orchestral palette (Stanford’s skilful scoring gives enormous pleasure throughout, in fact), rapt eloquence (nowhere more potent than at the line ‘Swiftly the great ship glides’) and adventurous harmonic scope.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

About the CD …

This release contains two of Stanford’s famous song cycles, the complete Songs of the Sea and Songs of the Fleet to words by Sir Henry Newbolt wonderfully performed here by Gerald Finley, and the only available recording of The Revenge: A ballad of the Fleet.

Stanford was particularly known in his day for his choral works and declared that the poem should always remain the principal consideration, governing all other artistic decisions. He derived some of his most stirring emotions from settings of maritime texts. The fearless constancy and bravery of the Royal Navy clearly motivated Stanford. All the works performed here use poems inspired by the Royal Navy and employing rich imagery of England’s naval past. Abounding with vivid orchestral portrayals, Stanford’s great choral piece The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet depicts the vivid narrative of Tennyson’s poem of that name with operatic skill

Hickox with his excellent forces directs a performance which is a ‘must’ for all lovers of British music.

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