The pioneering British label Somm is currently doing Sir Charles Villiers Stanford proud with revelatory recent recordings of the String Quartets and a real curiosity by way of the premiere recording of the composer’s last opera, The Travelling Companion . Now it turns its attention to some of the songs, avoiding most that have been recorded before.


Songs of Love, Faith and Nonsense swings boldly from the sublime to the ridiculous, ranging from both sets of the visionary Songs of Faith to the hilarious Nonsense Rhymes , the latter never published in Stanford’s lifetime and believed lost until they popped up in 1960 among bomb-damaged archives at the publishers Stainer & Bell.

The earliest music here is the Three Songs of Robert Bridges from 1891. Bridges’ star was rising and Stanford clearly had a nose for good material as he set these poems just a year after they were published. They are real charmers, all three possessing a pleasing, folkish lilt. Roderick Williams is an ideal guide, his lyrical baritone caressing the occasionally wide-ranging but always carefully crafted vocal lines. All are...