Patric Standford Captures the Essence of England

Listening to the music of Patric Standford, other composers come to mind. The works flow smoothly and organically, like those of his teacher Edmund Rubbra. The skittering passages of the Prelude to a Fantasy sound like more tonal versions of those by Lutoslawski (who Standford also studied with). And over all of this, there’s a practical cast to the music — and its eminent playability — that reminded me quite a bit of Malcolm Arnold.

The centerpiece of this album is Standford’s first symphony. Titled “The Seasons — An English Year” this 1972 work quite effectively conjures up the English countryside, with each movement corresponding to a season. Though not a ground-breaking work, it is a well-constructed one, and if you’re fond of Arnold or Rubbra, there’s much here to enjoy.

Raphael Wallfisch plays Standford’s 1974 cello concerto with straight-forward conviction, which (I think) presents the music in it’s best possible light. Rather than creating a showpiece for technique, Standford seemed more interested in creating a work that let the cello sing. And Wallfisch makes his instrument do just that.

David Lloyd-Jones and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra deliver highly expressive performances that bring out the beauty for Standford’s compositions. A well-recorded album of interesting music. While some may not consider Standford to be a world-class composer, I think his music holds it own at least in the realm of British 20th Century music.

Patric Standford: Symnphony No. 1 “The Seasons –An English Year”; Cello Concerto; Prelude to a Fantasy (The Naides)
Royal Scottish National Orchestra; David Lloyd-Jones; Raphael Wallfisch, cello
Naxos 5.571356

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