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American Record Guide, October 2006

I'm not of Irish extraction, but I have always fallen for "that cheap Irish music" (as they call it in the great musical comedy Pinian's Rainbow). Mention John McCormack, and tears well in me eyes, and hum 'Danny Boy'-well, I'm fair done for. This 1989 recording is a delight for all lovers of Irish tunes, and Peter Dempsey's excellent liner notes chart their fascinating progression from actual folk songs to ersatz parlor ballads or operetta songs, and later to orchestral medleys like the ones represented here.

The notes also properly credit the collectors and arrangers of Irish song in the 19th Century, who are in their way partly responsible for Irish music being in the forefront of world music today (think of the Chieftains and other groups).

Richard Hayman was an arranger for the Boston Pops and a prolific pops conductor, and that is the kind of treatment you get here for these Irish melodies - do not think you are getting the true sound of a musical evening at a pub in County Wicklow.

"Rhapsody" is the key word here, with lots of strings and lush arrangements of what are, in many cases, the simplest of tunes. But they can stand the aggrandization, if they are done by arrangers of taste. Leroy Anderson was cer­tainly one, and his Irish Suite is a darlin' collection of familiar ballads like 'The Wearing of the Green' and 'The Last Rose of Summer'. Hayman's own orchestrations can be more characteristically 1950s, easy-listening soupy. The George M Cohan medley is very much an orchestral pops arrangement, without the period zing of the vocal renditions in the terrific Cohan film Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Victor Herbert, that Son of Erin who has been getting new recordings of his orchestral material in the last few years, is represented by his wistful Irish Rhapsody and a heavy- handed, bandy rendition of that rouser from his 1917 operetta Eileen, 'The Irish Have a Great Day Tonight'.

What is it that makes this music so appealing? The minor keys? The sad stories told in their lyrics? The sentimentality? The bald patriotism? Some ancient Celtic harmonic scale? Probably all of the above. Excellent for St Patrick's Day gifts, and the image on the cover is lovely.

Ian Lace
MusicWeb International, July 2006

Richard Hayman's virtuoso players and their bright and breezy way with light music classics have enlivened other Naxos releases. This time they turn their attention to the music of Eire. It is notable that much of this material is seen through Irish-American eyes - a result of the homesickness felt by so many in the wake of the great Irish diaspora? In fact more than one well-known, well-loved 'Irish' melody was penned by an American-Irishman. Indeed, the late-nineteenth-century leading light of the American musical theatre, Victor Herbert, was born in Dublin. As Peter Dempsey points out, in his usual erudite notes, Herbert was "a perfect prototype of the Americanised Irishman. After training in Stuttgart and Vienna, he won early fame as a cellist before producing his first light opera, in a series of more than forty, on Broadway, in 1894." His Irish Rhapsody is an affectionate and proud tribute to the Emerald Isle consisting of tunes familiar and not-so-well-known. There are smiles but deep sadness too for you can sense the tragedy of the 1840s, for instance, in the darker reaches of this music. Additionally Hayman swaggers proudly through the jolly marching song 'The Irish Have a Great Day Tonight' from Herbert's ill-fated operetta, Eileen. The American composer, Leroy Anderson is well known as the composer of so many outstanding light music classics like Sleigh Ride, Blue Tango and The Typewriter. Hayman's concert opens with Leroy Anderson's tasteful, affectionate tribute, his Irish Suite, and who could not be moved by the lovely elegy Anderson fashions from 'The Minstrel Boy' or amused by the cheeky perkiness of 'The Rakes of Mallow', or moved again by the sweet sentimentality of 'The Last Rose of Summer' or stirred by the marching rhythms of 'The Girl I Left Behind Me'? George M. Cohan, is probably best remembered through James Cagney's portrayal in Yankee Doodle Dandy. Cohan, composer, writer, actor, director and producer, wrote many Broadway shows including Ah! Wilderness, and Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway (that included the song, 'Mary's a Grand Old Name') and Little Johnny Jones (that had 'Give My Regards to Broadway' and 'Yankee Doodle Boy'). His amiable 'An Old Fashioned Sing-Along Melody' includes all the aforementioned songs plus 'You're a Grand Old Flag'. Conductor Richard Hayman includes his mischievous, cocking-the-snook arrangement of Seamus O'Connor's Macnamara's Band. Deeply affecting nostalgia is conversely felt in the orchestra's rendition of the Traditional Irish Tune from County Derry. Elsewhere, Hayman uses solo piano and harmonica to introduce his nostalgic arrangement of 'My Darling Irish Rose' and he ends the concert with his ‘Sing-Along Melody', again featuring the harmonica introduction but this time with harp. Yes, with such affectionate playing, 'Irish Eyes Are Smiling'. Sensitive renderings of familiar Irish songs lovingly performed by the Hayman Orchestra.

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