"Stanford’s sea songs are magnificently sung here by Gerald Finley, with splendid support from chorus and orchestra under Richard Hickox."
For a moment I even wondered if Hickox was finding more in this music than is really there; but no, perish the thought, for this recording is a triumph for him, for the glorious-voiced Finley, who sings without a trace of condescension or disdain, and for the absolutely splendid Welsh chorus, which is magnificent throughout… Add to all this a superb note by Jeremy Dibble… full English texts, and outstanding Brangwyn Hall sound, and the result is an outstanding Naval Victory to add to Trafalgar and all the rest.
International Record Review
Singing Stanford song cycles is no way to court wide popularity though Gerald Finley deserves just that with his sonorous baritone and sensitive musicianship. His intuitive feeling for a score’s inner life reaps manifold rewards in his fine accounts of Songs of the Sea and Songs of the Fleet. Richard Hickox conducts the BBC National Chorus and Orchestra of Wales, both very rousing, and I’m joining the navy immediately.
The choral singing is splendid throughout, with the BBC National Chorus of Wales clearly loving the bluster and heroism of ‘The Revenge’, while the orchestra provide characterful emphatic support. The Brangwyn hall recording captures everything with great vividness and warmth.
The Telegraph Classical CD of the Week
Classical CD of the Week
With its quasi-operatic characterisations and dramatic retelling of the story of Richard Grenville’s heroic battle against the Spanish fleet in 1591, however, it’s easy to see why The Revenge was such a huge success across Britain after its first performance in 1886. Stanford’s orchestration is deft too, even though it is short on memorable invention when heard alongside the two song-cycles. They are the real reason to buy the disc.
Gerald Finley’s firmly focussed, ringing tone is a joy. He doesn’t possess the salty tang of Benjamin Luxon, but the voice is steadier and he sings with unfailing ardour, intelligence and sensitivity. Hickox and his BBC Welsh forces provide exemplary support.
Gramophone Record of the Month
This [EMI’s] is a grand, idiomatic account… is outclassed by this new Chandos SACD, which has impressive presence.
BBC Music Magazine
Now remembered primarily for his church music, Stanford’s rampant patriotism shines through in these lusty songs very popular in their day, redeemed from period archness by Finley’s gusto, the powerful BBC chorus, and the evident enthusiasm of conductor Richard Hickox.
Classic FM Magazine
Elgar’s Second Symphony blossoms in the hands of Richard Hickox and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Classic FM Magazine ‘Disc of the Month’ on CHSA 5038
Très bel album et sans réel équivalent dans la discographie.
Stanford’s rediscovery is well deserved, and Chandos can be thanked for adding to the momentum. Now if you don’t mind, I really want to listen to this again
American Record Guide
Gramophone Awards 2006 ‘Editor’s Choice’ and 'Best Choral'
Excellente prise de son, somptueuse et precise.
Richard Hickox’s studio recording certainly deserves a place in that select band. The Chandos sound is glorious and the orchestral playing first rate – on form the BBC National Orchestra of Wales is a match for any of the corporation’s other orchestras around the country – and Hickox’s performance has the sense of carefully moulded ebb and flow that the Second Symphony requires.
The Guardian on CHSA 5038
Superb performance and sonic quality. The music evokes sentiments of days of glory at sea.