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Recordings of the Month


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Hiccup - RTÉ lyric fm COMMISSIONS 2002 - 2008
Works by Bernard Geary, David Fennessy, Rhona Clarke, Elaine Agnew, Gavin Bryars, Fergus Johnston, Andreja Malir, Jürgen Simpson, Marian Ingoldsby, Greg Caffrey, Siobhán Cleary and Fergal Carroll (full listing at the bottom of the review)
RTÉ LYRIC FM CD123 [75:04] Free
Experience Classicsonline

As the heading makes clear, this promotional disc - obtainable free from - provides a survey of several of many commissions originated by RTÉ lyric fm between 2002 and 2008. Its content is roughly similar to that found in the various promotional discs released by the Contemporary Music Centre, Dublin in that it offers either complete works or movements from various Irish works. From this point of view, Gavin Bryars is somewhat the Odd Man Out in this selection. The range of music, too, is very wide indeed, i.e. from overtly tonal works such as Malir’s Yeats setting or Fergal Carroll’s Inside the Hedge to stylistically more advanced works such as Jürgen Simpson’s electroacoustic work Sigilum. The aim of such releases is to demonstrate not only the breadth of RTÉ’s commissioning policy but also the breadth of the Irish compositional activity.

It would be idle on my part to go into detail about each of the works recorded here. Suffice it to say that such release often whets one’s appetite to hear more of these composers. Some of the names here are already fairly well known such as David Fennessy, Rhona Clarke, Elaine Agnew, Fergus Johnston, Marian Ingoldsby, Siobhán Cleary, some maybe rather less so. I would only like to single out a few pieces, actually movements from larger works that call for further investigation. Marian Ingoldsby’s This is the Key is a set of six songs for children’s choir and small instrumental ensemble of flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano that clearly brings Britten to mind in that it is superbly written for treble voices. The song recorded here is the fifth of the cycle and the one that gives the cycle its title. I for one would certainly hear it complete. Fergal Carroll’s Into the Hedge is the first part of a radio series for children in five episodes on texts by Máighréad Medbh. This quite attractive work for narrator and orchestra brings Prokofiev to mind but also Howard Blake (The Snowman, Grandpa), and the music is colourful, tuneful and memorable. I hope that RTÉ will not be long in issuing a complete recording of it. I for one would like to know what happens next!

Amongst the most substantial single items here may be mentioned Cleary’s The Dole of the King’s Daughter for soprano, string quartet and electronics on a poem of Oscar Wilde set in a most inventive and imaginative manner.

Actually many of the pieces recorded here deserve to be heard because each of them is interesting in one way or another and I cannot but suggest you get a copy of this well-filled release to gain some appreciation of what is going on in Irish music now. There is much to enjoy here.

Hubert Culot

Details of Works and Artists:

Bernard GEARY
(b. 1934)
Chasing the Tide
Carducci String Quartet
Recorded : Anavena House, Ravensdale, Co. Louth
David FENNESSY (b. 1976)
chOirland (2002)
National Chamber Choir, Celso Antunes
Recorded : National Concert Hall
Rhona CLARKE (b. 1958)
Tread Softly (2006)
Maria McGarry (piano)
Recorded : RTÉ Studios
Elaine AGNEW (b. 1968)
Hiccup (2008)
Trio Quattro
Recorded : RTÉ Studios
Gavin BRYARS (b. 1943)
Anáil Dé II (2008)
Irala Ó Lionáird (voice), Gavin Bryars (double bass), Crash Ensemble
Recorded : Irish Museum of Modern Art
Fergus JOHNSTON (b. 1959)
Three Bulgarian Pieces (arr. 2005)
Vox 21
Recorded : RTÉ Studios
Andreja MALIR
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
Lynda Lee (soprano), Andreja Malir (harp)
Recorded : RTÉ Studios
Jürgen SIMPSON (b. 1975)
Sigilum (2008)
Marian INGOLDSBY (b. 1965)
This is the Key (2004)
RTÉ Cór na nÔg, Máire Mannion
Recorded : RTÉ Studios
Greg CAFFREY (b. 1963)
Pluck, Blow II (2007)
Aisling Agnew (flute), Matthew McAllister (guitar)
Recorded : RTÉ Studios
Siobhán CLEARY (b. 1970)
The Dole of the King’s Daughter (2005)
Kathleen Tynan (soprano), RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet
Recorded : RTÉ Studios
Fergal CARROLL (b. 1969)
The Rescue : Into the Hedge (2006)
Louis Lovett (narrator), RTÉ Concert orchestra, David Brophy
Recorded : RTÉ Studios
Elaine AGNEW (b. 1968)
Curoo Curoo (2008)
New Dublin Voices, Jonathan Wilson (piano), Bernie Sherlock
Recorded : Unitarian Church, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 


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