Richard Hickox, BBC National Orchestra of Wales - Stanford: The Revenge; Songs of the Sea; Songs of the Fleet (2006)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue & Log) ~ 221 MB Total time: 69:37 | Digital booklet
Classical | Label: Chandos | # CHAN 5043 | Recorded: 2005

In the latter years of the nineteenth century, England was at its apogee as an imperial power and, as every Englishmen at the time knew, the foundation of that power was the royal navy. In those days, a land army was a fine thing for European wars, but you couldn't beat a navy for projecting imperial power - and nobody could beat the royal navy. An Irish Protestant of English lineage, composer Charles Villiers Stanford deeply appreciated the royal navy - who else could bring an English army across the Irish Sea to put down the an Catholic rebellions? - and his three most popular choral-orchestral works amply prove the sincerity of his appreciation. Written in a style that recalls Brahms at his most harmonically conservative and Verdi at his most rhetorically bombastic - think of Brahms' Triumphlied fused with Verdi's Requiem and you'll have some idea what to expect - Stanford's The Revenge: A Ballade of the Fleet, Songs of the Sea, and Songs of the Fleet are simple, direct, and straightforward musical appeals to patriotism. On this spectacular 2006 super audio digital recording, all three works are given stirring performances by the BBC National Chorus and Orchestra of Wales led by Richard Hickox with Canadian Gerald Finley as the baritone soloist. In sound that resounds from the North Sea to the antipodes, Hickox and his forces perform yeoman's duties in making these imperial works as powerfully effective as humanly possible. Although their patriotism might strike more recent audiences as sentimental, in these performances at least, Stanford's choral-orchestral maneuvers may still bring a tear to some eyes.
-James Leonard

Gerald Finley, baritone
BBC National Chorus of Wales
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Richard Hickox, conductor

Track List:
Songs of the Fleet, Op. 117
01. I. Sailing at Dawn. Andante molto tranquillo
02. II. The Song of the Sou'Wester. Allegro non troppo, ma con fuoco
03. III. The Middle-Watch. Andante molto tranquillo
04. IV. The Little Admiral. Allegro vivace - Poco meno mosso
05. V. Fare Well. Quasi adagio - Poco più mosso
The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet, Op. 24
06. I. At Flores in the Azores
07. IV. He had only a hundred seamen: Andante sostenuto
08. V.Sir Richard spoke and he laugh'd
09. XI. And the night went down
10. XIII. And the stately Spanish men
11. But they sank his body with honour down
Songs of the Sea, Op. 91
12. 1. Drake's Drum. Tempo di marcia moderato
13. 2. Outward bound. Andante espressivo
14. 3. Devon, O Devon, in wind and rain. Allegro molto
15. 4. Homeward bound. Andante tranquillo - Più lento
16. 5. The Old Superb. Allegro molto - Presto