Stanford: Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor, Op 126; Dante Rhapsodies, Op 92; Six Characteristic Pieces, Op 132 – Nos 3 (Study) and 4 (Roundel); Five Caprices, Op 138 – No 5 (Tempo di Valse)

Reviewed on Thu 23 Feb, 2017

Of particular interest, here, though, is Frith's blisteringly committed advocacy of the Op 92 Dante Rhapsodies (1904), a 27-minute solo triptych of striking power and Lisztian resourcefulness.

How pleasing to be able to welcome another fine recording of Charles Villiers Stanford's ripely romantic Second Piano Concerto (1913). In my review posted on 24 May 2013, I waxed lyrical about Finghin Collins's big-hearted and splendidly stylish interpretation on Claves with Kenneth Montgomery and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. This Champs Hill newcomer strikes me as very nearly its equal. Benjamin Frith is fully on top of the solo part's technical demands and brings plenty of poetry and obvious affection to proceedings, and he receives sympathetic support from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Andrew Gourlay. Of particular interest, here, though, is Frith's blisteringly committed advocacy of the Op 92 Dante Rhapsodies (1904), a 27-minute solo triptych of striking power and Lisztian resourcefulness inspired by the virtuoso playing of Percy Grainger (to whom the work bears a dedication). Three solo morsels (the 'Tempo di Valse' from the Op 136 Five Caprices is a real charmer) round off a valuable programme that all Stanford fans will want to add to their collection.
–Andrew Achenbach