Following on from my previous post on Stanford String Quartets, here's one with another World Premiere recording (No. 8), plus a linked piece by Joachim.

Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) was Stanford's mentor as well as a fervent advocate of his music. This disc is, in a sense, "about" their relationship, in that the Quartet No. 5 in B flat, Op. 104 is an explicit in memoriam of Joachim.

The first movement is something of a miracle in the way it mixes concentrated, Beethovenian workings with a lyric streak. Stanford also quotes the Joachim Romance included on this disc in the movement's coda:

The Intermezzo that follows is delicious harmonically, sweet and fulfilling its remit as an interludial space perfectly. The World seems to turn in on itself for the eleven minute Adagio pesante - this is where the Dante Quartet really shines. Stanford is completely unafraid of thinning down his textures to the meresy wisp.

The Joachim Romance is for violin and piano. It is the first of his Op. 2 Stücke ("Pieces") - Krysia Osostowicz, the Dante Quartet's first violin, is joined by Somm Recordings regular Mark Bebbington for four and a half minutes of Brahmsian glory (worth remembering that Osostowitz herself recorded the Brahms Violin Sonatas for Hyperion, with Susan Tomes on piano). As an alternative performance, here's Rainer Schmidt and Saiko Sasaki:

The Eighth Quartet (E minor, Op. 167) dates from 1919 and displays a sort of restless melancholy. One can feel that somewhat unsettled aspect in the first movement, as themes attempt to fly but are frequently reined in again:

There's some lovely exchanges of melody in the restrained Scherzo before the third movement Canzona almost literally sings its way into existence. The fact this is a premiere recording is astonishing given the breadth of this movement and Stanford's almost operatic mastery. So, here are seven minutes of gorgeousness:

Another cherishable, eye-opening disc in the Dante Quartet's Stanford series. The inclusion of the Joachim is the cherry on the cake!