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CHAN 10116
(multiple CD Set)
Six Irish Rhapsodies

Stanford: Six Irish Rhapsodies

The Classical Shop
release date: November 2003

Originally recorded in 2003


Ulster Orchestra

Vernon Handley

Raphael Wallfisch


Margaret Fingerhut


Lydia Mordkovitch



Ulster Hall, Belfast


Tim Oldham

(Irish Rhapsodies Nos 3 and 6)

Ralph Couzens

(Irish Rhapsody No. 2)

Brian Couzens

(other works)

Record Label
Chandos Classics


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 151:56
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Six Irish Rhapsodies

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Irish Rhapsody No. 1, Op. 78

  in D minor - in d-Moll - en ré mineur  
  To Hans Richter  
  Allegro molto - Adagio non troppo - Tempo I -  

Irish Rhapsody No. 2, Op. 84 'The Lament for the Son of Ossian'*

  in F minor - in f-Moll - en fa mineur  
  To Willem Mengelberg  
  Adagio - Allegro moderato - Adagio -  

Irish Rhapsody No. 3, Op. 137†

  in D major - in D-Dur - en ré majeur  
  for Cello and Orchestra  
  Andante - Tranquillandosi Più lento - Più mosso -  

Irish Rhapsody No. 4, Op. 141 'The Fisherman of Loch Neagh and What He Saw'

  in A minor - in a-Moll - en la mineur  
  Larghetto - Maestoso - Allegro (alla marcia) -  

Irish Rhapsody No. 5, Op. 147

  in G minor - in g-Moll - en sol mineur  
  Allegro moderato alla marcia - Larghetto - Più lento -  

Irish Rhapsody No. 6, Op. 191‡

  in D minor - in d-Moll - en ré mineur  
  for Violin and Orchestra  
  Andante - Più mosso - Rallentando al tempo I -  

Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 126§

  in C minor - in c-Moll - en ut mineur  
7 I Allegro moderato 15:33
8 II Adagio molto - Più mosso (quasi andante) 12:39
9 III Allegro molto - Largamente e sostenuto 10:43

Down among the Dead Men, Op. 71§

  Concert Variations upon an English Theme  
  in C minor - in c-Moll - en ut mineur  
  for Piano and Orchestra  
10 Introduction. Lento - Allegro moderato - Lento - 2:23
11 I Tranquillo 0:50
12 II Poco più moto 1:00
13 III Poco meno mosso 1:21
14 IV Presto 0:39
15 V - 0:54
16 VI Poco a poco più sostenuto 1:29
17 VII Intermezzo 2:18
18 VIII Andante tranquillo 2:10
19 IX - 1:55
20 X - 0:48
21 XI Lento 3:43
22 XII Finale. Allegro moderato e deciso 6:38
 Lydia Mordkovitch violin‡
 Raphael Wallfisch cello†
 Margaret Fingerhut piano§
 Vernon Handley
  August 1986 (Irish Rhapsody No. 5), 7-9 September 1987 (Irish Rhapsody No. 4), 9 & 10 March (Irish Rhapsody No. 1), 19-23 February 1989 (Piano Concerto No. 2, Down among the Dead Men), 22 August 1989 (Irish Rhapsody No. 6),  
  5 November 1989 (Irish Rhapsody No. 3) and 30 April-2 May 1991 (Irish Rhapsody No. 2)  
Charles Villiers Stanford
England, 1852-1924

Venon Handly is one of the great conductors of British music, and his recordings of Stanford’s music for Chandos received tremendous critical acclaim.

Stanford’s six Irish Rhapsodies contain some of his most popular music. Despite what the ‘rhapsody’ part of the titles may suggest, each of these pieces is an immaculately crafted and tightly constructed orchestral movement, worthy of a place in his symphonies.

This sweeping and richly coloured music, written in the late-Romantic tradition, is instantly appealing.

Much of the music is only available on this CD set, now available in slim-line packaging at mid-price for the first time.

The First Rhapsody, based on the heroic Irish folk tales of the Fiana led by Finn and the loves of Cuchullin and his wife Emer, was a huge and instant success for Stanford and was performed so frequently that he was said to have begun to regret its composition!
The Second Rhapsody is an emotional evocation of the death of Osca, son of Ossian, Ossian’s demand for vengeance and Oscar’s burial. It never achieved the success of the first, perhaps because of its lamenting and haunting mood.
The Third Rhapsody, scored for cello and orchestra, falls into two sections: the extended first part is more than two thirds of the work’s total duration and features as its main theme ‘The Fairy Queen’, one of the two hundred or so airs ascribed to the Irish harper and composer Carolan (1670-1738).
Stanford’s weaved into the score of his favourite rhapsody, the Fourth, the traditional tunes ‘I will raise my sail black, mistfully in the morning’, a fisherman’s song, an Ulster marching tune and lastly, in contrast, ‘The Death of General Wolfe’.
The events of the First World War prompted Stanford to write a Fifth Irish Rhapsody, dedicated ‘to the Irish Guards (officers and men) and to the memory of their first Colonel-in-Chief, the late Lord Roberts. In this work, Stanford uses five Irish tunes, three taken from Moore’s Irish melodies.
Events in Ireland in Stanford’s last years quite literally broke him – the idea of an independent Ireland was an anathema to him – and the tormented elegiac quality of the sixth and final Irish Rhapsody, scored for cello and orchestra, surely reflects this.

"...superb performances and recording."

The Penguin Guide - 1000 Greatest Classical Recordings 2011-12

With a distinguished array of soloists, committed playing from the Ulster Orchestra and richly sonorous sound, these discs will give much pleasure.
BBC Music Magazine

'The performances are impressive and Lewis Foreman's notes are conspicuously good. This set is real value for money.'
International Record Review

Splendidly played and recorded.
The Penguin Guide

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