September 15, 2017
CD and Other Review

Review: Stanford: Preludes (Sam Haywood)

For many, by the early 1920s, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford was the grand old man of English music. For some, however, he was a relic of a Victorian past whose publication of two sets of 24 Preludes, 39 of which are recorded here, must have confirmed that very suspicion. With his ‘old-fashioned’ music, Stanford honours the mighty ‘48’ of his hero JS Bach, but with stylistic nods to Chopin and Saint-Saëns – in other words, the polar opposite of the lions of the day: men like Ravel and Bartók. Not that Stanford cared. Hard up in the aftermath of the Great War, he needed the kind of income that came from the keen amateur market, and many of these miniatures would have appealed to professionals and the less-skilled alike. But are they any good? Brisbane-born British pianist Sam Haywood thinks so, and I think so too. Had they been written 40 years earlier, they would almost certainly have been taken up more enthusiastically. Rather than travel linearly from No 1 to No 48, Haywood roams at will, finding connections and resonances that build a satisfyingly varied recital. He begins among the Flats and the Minors, launching his disc with Stanford’s…

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