This amply filled disc
is the second piano disc of Wallace’s
music issued by Cala. The first was
a series of Wallace’s piano transcriptions
of well known folk songs [CACD88042
- not reviewed].
The present collection is perhaps more
interesting for here we have a series
of compositions composed by Wallace
himself. His style owes something to
those balletic qualities reminiscent
of Chopin, yet with a pinch of Schubert.
The list of tracks
indicates that the musical titles are
of continental flavour and one can be
forgiven for concluding that here is
a composer with a vivid imagination
about how these various styles should
sound. Not so, it is not widely known
that Wallace was a traveller and would
have had first-hand experience of countries
from France to Australia and Germany
In Wallace, born in
Waterford, Ireland, we have a composer
who as a teenager was so impressed by
Paganini’s playing that he practiced
on his violin until able to give virtuoso
performances. Then when hearing Henri
Herz in a Dublin piano recital he was
so impressed that he was motivated to
excel at the keyboard also. When starting
a new life in Australia (1835) with
his young wife it would be his compositions
and piano recitals that would feed them.
He remained in Australia until 1838
when he left for Chile and the Americas.
He found himself in New Orleans in 1842
and New York in 1844 before returning
to England by 1845.
From 1855 Wallace spent
a lot of his time in Britain, France
and Germany: it is this period which
tends to be of particular interest to
followers of his music. From these years
date the operas composed in quick succession
between 1860 and 1864 and of which little
is known. His lasting testament to music
was his highly successful opera, Maritana
(1845). This background is helpful when
assessing the various merits of the
periodic styles covered by pieces on
the present disc.
Rosemary Tuck has been
an ardent follower of Wallace, and came
to my notice with the Cala disc of transcriptions
of Celtic folk songs, ‘The Meeting of
the Waters’. Last year she played a
programme of Wallace’s music at a special
Australia House concert given by Richard
Bonynge and the Tait Trust. Here, Rosemary
Tuck has a confident feel for Wallace’s
demanding music and gives us an affectionate
performance within a sumptuous acoustic.
Her scalic passages and flourishes are
accurately measured. The performance
reveals the charm of Wallace’s melody
lines and makes us clearly aware of
interesting rhythms and swirling undercurrents
of energy. From what we hear Wallace
must have been a good virtuoso pianist.
Of the tracks, I consider
one of the most memorable to be the
sleepy Salon Étude [tk. 6], where
the swinging melody drifts to and fro.
It was written and published whilst
in New York. The booklet in English
gives short notes on each of the pieces
as well as a potted biography on Wallace.
This disc contains the first recording
of solo piano pieces by this almost
forgotten Irish composer.
Raymond J Walker
Wallace biographies in print:
William Vincent Wallace, a Memoir,
by Gratton Flood (1912) facsimile from
William Vincent Wallace, A Vagabond
Composer by Robert Phelan (1994)
ISBN 0 9524629 0 7
see also review
by Jonathan Woolf