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Chris Green
Opus Klassiek, March 2012

IRELAND, J.: Sextet / Clarinet Trio / Fantasy-Sonata / The Holy Boy (Plane, Rahman, Maggini Quartet) 8.570550
IRELAND: 5 Poems / We’ll to the Woods No More / Sea Fever / Santa Chiara (English Song, Vol. 18) 8.570467
IRELAND, J.: Piano Works, Vol. 2 (Lenehan) - Decorations / Sonatina / Leaves from a Child’s Sketchbook 8.553889

The budget label Naxos is to be commended in recording many of Ireland’s works for voice and for instruments with a Trio for clarinet, cello and piano reconstructed by Canadian Stephen Fox being given its first recording in a programme in which the clarinet features in a dominant musical role. Robert Plane is the clarinettist with Sophia Rahman (piano), Alice Neary (cello) and David Pyatt (horn). The Maggini Quartet join for the Sextet for clarinet, horn and quartet composed in 1898. In between the two major chamber works comes the gentle songThe Holy Boy (1913) and the Fantasy Sonata for the same combination during the darkest days of the Second World War. As usual, the accompanying CD booklet offers a full and illuminating commentary on the background to these works which feature Ireland’s favourite instrument, the clarinet…

The songs are a joy to hear and, even more so, to sing. Roderick Williams (baritone) and Iain Burnside (piano) traverse twenty-seven of these brief master pieces which include some of his most famous settings such as Sea Fever (1913), If there were dreams to sell (1918) and Vagabond (1922). Often the writing is muscular, at other times so gentle…

The Ireland legacy continues on the Naxos label with John Lenehan playing ten of his piano works…and here there are all the typical Ireland’s thumbprints—the love of melody in the right hand, the little grace notes that decorate the melodies and the surprising harmonies which display the influence of Ravel, Stravinsky and Gershwin. © 2012

Penguin Guide, 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.

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