, January 2009
IRELAND, J.: Piano Works, Vol. 1 (Lenehan) - Sarnia / London Pieces / In those days 8.553700
IRELAND, J.: Piano Works, Vol. 2 (Lenehan) - Decorations / Sonatina / Leaves from a Child`s Sketchbook 8.553889
John Lenehan is making a complete survey for Naxos and he too proves the most persuasive advocate, warmly expressive, using rubato in a totally idiomatic way. The four London Pieces are maong his most colourful, not just Ragamuffin, played here with quicksilver lightness, but also the barcarolle-like Chelsea Reach, tenderly emotional. The most ambitious work is the three-movement suite, inspired by Guernsey, Sarnia, far more than a set of atmospheric colour pieces. This music shows Ireland’s poetic imagination to particular advantage and its last movement has echoes of the Piano Concerto in E flat.
The second programme offers a score of miniatures, including two of Ireland’s most hauntingly atmospheric pieces, The Towing-Path and The Darkened Valley, a Blake inspiration. The longest work here is the Sonatina in three short movements, with the opening Moderato bringing echoes of Ireland’s colourful Piano Concerto, the second a dark mediation leading to a galloping finale. Impeccable performances, vividly recorded.