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A composition pupil of Stanford and recognised as an outstanding talent by Parry, John Ireland was inspired as student by the music of Beethoven, Brahms and Elgar, and later by Debussy, Ravel and the early Stravinsky.
This recording features the genial, Brahmsian 1898 Sextet for clarinet, French horn and string quartet, unheard in public until 1960, and a reconstruction by the Canadian clarinettist and clarinet maker Stephen Fox of the Clarinet Trio of 1912-14.
Also included are Robert Plane’s transcription for clarinet and piano of Ireland’s very popular piano prelude The Holy Boy, written on Christmas Day 1913, and one of Ireland’s finest and most beautifully crafted chamber works, the Fantasy Sonata for clarinet and piano (1943).
John Ireland: Clarinet Trio in D major (edited and reconstructed by S. Fox)
I. Allegro non troppo
II. Scherzo - Vivace
III. Lento - Con moto
John Ireland: Fantasy-Sonata
John Ireland: The Holy Boy (arr. R. Plane for clarinet and piano)
The Holy Boy (arr. R. Plane for clarinet and piano)
John Ireland: Sextet
I. Allegro non troppo
II. Andante con moto
III. Intermezzo - Allegretto con grazia
IV. In tempo moderato
“This disc is a most welcome addition to the catalogue of recordings of John Ireland's chamber music in that its principal focus is the range of pieces that the composer wrote for clarinet, played here with ravishing lyricism and conviction by Robert Plane, who has surely now fully occupied the shoes of the late Thea King in his championship of British clarinet music. Plane's kinship with this music is clear from the more Brahmsian hues of the Sextet (1898), the limpid lyricism of The Holy Boy arrangement (1913), to the extrovert passion of the Fantasy Sonata for Clarinet (1943) where he is arguably at his most impressive. Though the Sextet, a student work, betrays a deference to Brahms, there is a freshness and fluency about the material as well as a flair for the idiom, which compares favourably with those prodigious chamber works of Hurlstone, Coleridge-Taylor (both RCM fellow students) and, later, Frank Bridge. An attractive novelty on this CD is the Clarinet Trio which Ireland completed in 1913 but withdrew after two performances. Left incomplete and in manuscript at Ireland's death, it has been reconstructed skilfully by Stephen Fox. Plane, Alice Neary and Sophia Rahman give a sensitive reading of a style that is much more distinctly 'Irelandesque' in its assimilation of French sonorities and soundmoments, Plane's hushed playing being especially enthralling.”