Stanford - The Travelling Companion
Label: SOMM RECORDS
Catalog: SOMMCD 274-2
Valentine, Kate; van Mellaerts, Julien; Barnett, Tamzin; Urquhart, Lucy; New Sussex Opera Chorus; Putnins, Pauls; Horton, David; New Sussex Opera Orchestra; Purser, Toby; Kemp, Felix; Beadle, Ian
SOMM Recordings is delighted to announce the World Premiere recording of Charles Villiers Stanford’s opera The Travelling Companion. The live recording features Julien Van Mellaerts in the title role and a cast that includes David Horton (John), Kate Valentine (The Princess), Pauls Putnins (The King), Ian Beadle (The Wizard) and Felix Kemp (The Herald) with Toby Purser conducting the New Sussex Opera Orchestra and Chorus. First staged in 1925 and the last of Stanford’s nine completed operas, The Travelling Companion is based on a fantasy-laced story by Hans Christian Andersen with a libretto by Henry Newbolt (whose Songs of the Sea and Songs of the Fleet Stanford had previously set). It finds the composer at his most economic but expressive – a last, remarkable demonstration of his brilliance as an orchestrator. The result, says Stanford biographer Jeremy Dibble in his authoritative booklet notes, “seems like an antidote to the heavier textures of Wagner and Richard Strauss and rivals the fairy-tale operas of the Russians”. Anticipating Puccini’s Turandot, at the heart of The Travelling Companion is a Princess whose suitors must answer an impenetrable riddle to win her hand or die when they fail. There are intimations of Britten’s Peter Grimes, too, in the sophisticated use of the Chorus, leading Jeremy Dibble to observe: “If Stanford’s last opera was given time to establish itself in the repertoire, not only would it provide an entirely new perspective of this highly versatile and imaginative composer, but it might also change our view of our operatic history”. This first recording of The Travelling Companion was recorded live at Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden in December, 2018. Previous SOMM recordings of Stanford’s music include two “essential listening” recommendations from Gramophone for String Quartets Nos.3, 4 & 7 (SOMMCD 0185) and from MusicWeb International for Partsongs (SOMMCD 0128).