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Ireland - Piano Music Volume 1
This is Vol. 1 of a planned cycle of all the piano music by John Ireland. 1879 was an auspicious year for English music. It saw the births of Frank Bridge and Cyril Scott as well as John Ireland. Having scored huge critical acclaim and public acclamation for his recent recordings of music by Bax, Lambert and Elgar, pianist Mark Bebbington is nothing less than spectacular in these stunning piano pieces. A very welcome release from Somm. Not to be missed!
“Mark Bebbington's… approach to the brooding and combative Piano Sonata is to give the harmony time enough to breathe, in order to go more intensely into its emotional life. The depressive aspects of 'Chelsea Reach' and the mystical ones of the three Channel Island pieces collected as Decorations have seldom been more sensitively brought out.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2008 *****
“…..Bebbington’s programme provides a pretty much ideal introduction, containing two of Ireland’s most popular and durable achievements, namely Decorations and London Pieces – both given with such winning
aplomb, scrupulous care and heartwarming sense of new discovery that I found myself falling in love with them all over again…” Gramophone Magazine, October 2008
“For first-timers, however, Bebbington's programme provides a pretty much ideal introduction, containing two of Ireland's most popular and durable achievements, namely Decorations and London Pieces - both given with such winning aplomb, scrupulous care and heartwarming sense of new discovery that I found myself falling in love with them all over again...” Gramophone Magazine, October 2008
“Bebbington’s approach fulfils with prescient fluidity the composer’s textural ambitions, yet resists tossing off the flourishes with undue slickness or abandoning the chaste lyrical imperative that, as with all Ireland’s music, binds together the considerable pianistic accoutrements…. The continuing wave of enthusiasm for John Ireland’s music is certainly to be warmly embraced and I look forward with eagerness to Mark Bebbington’s second instalment.” International Record Review, June 2008
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Ireland - Piano Works Volume 2
“The pleasures here are many. John Lenehan is a very accomplished performer: not only is his technical address impeccable, but he also has a strikingly wide dynamic range and sophisticated variety of tone colour, both of which he uses to poetic effect throughout. That Lenehan has a real affinity for Ireland's muse is immediately evident from his raptly intimate delivery of the gentle opening diptych, In Those Days. Similarly, in the extraordinarily imaginative, harmonically questing Ballade of 1929 he rises superbly to the elemental fury of the remarkable central portion, with its brooding echoes of the 'Northern' Bax from the same period. Elsewhere, Columbine is a treat, as is the ravishing Month'sMind and the haunting Prelude in E flat. Lenehan's supremely affectionate and articulate advocacy will surely win Ireland many friends.
On Volume 2 there's a strong feeling of how purely local influences (Pangbourne and the Thames Valley in The towing-path, Le Fauvic beach, Jersey in 'The Island Spell', to take two examples) are transcended to become statements of wider poetic import.
The large-scale Rhapsody, with its powerful Fauréan overtones, is relished by Lenehan, a strong, sympathetic interpreter, and time and again he makes you wonder at works aptly described as 'some of the most appealing English piano music written this century, too long neglected.'” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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John Ireland Piano Music
“Captured in perfectly acceptable mono sound, Rowland's memorably intimate performances betoken a very special empathy for this repertoire.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2008
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John Ireland - The Piano Music
"How can the critics begin to understand my music if they have never read Machen?" This was a question heard to fall on more than one occasion from John Ireland’s lips. Ireland came of a literary family, and literature and literary people played a natural part in the formation of his personality. Most influential of all were the works of Arthur Machen the Welsh writer, who was to Ireland almost what Yeats was to Bax. Ireland had dreamt in fire - after his first encounter with Machen it was only a matter of time before he worked in fire also. In the wake of The House of Souls and The Hill of Dreams a smouldering coal flared gloriously into flame. For Machen loved all memoried things and places, things with a past behind them - and the more remote the past the greater he felt able to partake of them. He hailed from a forgotten country in the West, a land of dark and ancient woods and streams and deep sunken lanes, the ancient Welsh kingdom of Gwent …
“Eric Parkin's… is completely inside Ireland's idiom, well understanding the darker emotional complexities and yearnings that may underlie a seemingly casual phrase or carefree melodic line.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2008 *****
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