- The Resurrection, for tenor, chorus, orchestra & organ, Op. 5
The large, choral-orchestral works by Charles Villiers Stanford recorded here are not commonly performed or recorded, even in Britain, but they were fine candidates for resurrection, one might say, in Naxos' deliberate series devoted to English choral music. "The Resurrection," published in 1875, was a student work written in Leipzig under the tutelage of Carl Reinecke, who was understandably impressed. For a text it takes a poem by Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock that was later used by Mahler in the "Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection)," and in general it breathes the Germanic air that Stanford was to develop in his later works. The "Stabat Mater, Op. 96," designated a "symphonic cantata," is a splendid example. With a lengthy instrumental prelude and two big vocal quartets, it applies the style of Wagner to English sacred music. Once you suspend the disbelief that comes from imagining how Wagner himself would have reacted to such a thing, it's gorgeous. Sample the quartet in the first part of the fourth movement, the "Eja Mater," to experience the soaring operatic writing, at which the four soloists here are fully equal. The Bach Choir and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under David Hill are not far behind in delivering the requisite lushness. A bonus is the 14-minute "Song to the Soul, Op. 97b," reworking earlier settings by Stanford of texts by Walt Whitman and intended for an American performance that never came to fruition due to the sinking of the Lusitania; it's a rhapsodic work built on the appeal of Whitman's poetry in Britain, a topic worthy of further musical and textual investigation. This is a very satisfying hour-plus of choral music that most listeners will not know.