Acclaimed Irish pianist Michael McHale’s début solo album features a delightful selection of piano miniatures inspired by Ireland’s rich musical heritage. The Irish Piano explores the influence of both Irish traditional and European classical music on this country’s composers and musicians.
The Irish Piano opens with Michael’s own arrangement of one of the earliest notated Irish melodies dating from the 16th century, Cailín ó cois tSuire Mé (I am a girl from the banks of the river Suir). In the English-speaking world it was known as ‘Callino Custurame’ and was originally believed to be of Italian origin.
Following on from this are two nocturnes by John Field, who coined the term and did so much to raise the bar for Irish classical music in Europe. These are complemented by Samuel Barber’s Nocturne, written as an homage to Field, and a first ever recording of the young Arnold Bax’s Nocturne, as well as music from another Irish-influenced composer Percy Grainger and the Waterford-born virtuoso William Vincent Wallace.
More first recordings on The Irish Piano of pieces by Bill Whelan, Ian Wilson and Philip Hammond are testament to the diversity of musical styles and voices that can be found in Irish contemporary piano music today. Add to these Michael McHale’s own unique arrangements of some of the country’s best loved traditional airs, and you a CD that is an accessible and engaging must-buy for anyone interested in Irish music.
Michael McHale says in his booklet notes to the collection: Altogether I hope it provides and interesting cross-section of the many different facets, musical styles and personalities that form the world of ‘The Irish Piano’.
“[McHale] finds a range of keyboard colours [in these works], making their individual sound-worlds seem unexpectedly subtle and rich” BBC Music Magazine
“all of the music comes to life through the singing sensibility of McHale's sensitive and polished pianism, captured in a warmly ambient recording. In short, it's easy to recommend such a highly distinctive and imaginatively presented release.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2013
“an elegant sensibility, and bright, even-fingered articulation that was instantly engaging” The Times