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Association of Hugh Lane November Series 1998.
IMRO Lyric AIC001 [51.35]
AIC,Copyright House, Pembroke Row, Dublin 2. Tel 00 353 1 4961484
Deuce Siobhan Cleary
Arlecchino James Wilson
Brown Studies Raymond Deane
The Old Men admiring themselves in the Water Rhona Clarke
Autobiography Rhona Clarke
Two Lyric Sketches John McLachlan
Prelude for Morton Feldman Paul Hayes
27 January 1995 :Lost in Tokyo Paul Hayes


This CD is for promotional purposes only. It is not for sale and any attempts to sell it are a violation of the law.

Then what is the purpose of reviewing it?

It is available from the above address for those who genuinely want to promote Irish music.

I have contributed mini-biographies and articles on Irish composers to this website. If you consult my biography of Gerard Victory it will give you a good start to the subject of serious Irish music. There are still people who believe that the only music in Ireland is the traditional music and a few pop groups which, quite frankly, are a lot better than British and American ones although I have to admit that The Cranberries give me an awful headache. Ireland does not just consist of traditional music and Irish dancing, which has now been brought to the fore by Riverdance, an amazing show although I was perturbed by Michael Flatley's ego, but amazed at his skill and that of his leading lady, Jean Butler. who appealed to me far more becaue she was so natural and unassuming.

On this website there are my articles about Irish composers such as the aforementioned Gerard Victory, James Wilson, John Buckley, Rhona Clarke, Elisabeth MacConchy. Frederick May, Sean O'Riada, John Larchett and Edgar Deale.

Siobhan Cleary was born in Dublin in 1970 and studied at Queens , Belfast. She has also studied briefly in France, Poland and Italy. She scored a great success with her orchestral work Threads and with her work Hum! for chamber orchestra. She has written music to two feature films both produced by Roger Corman namely Spacejacked and Stray Bull I.

Deuce is not only an expression used in cards but an old Irish name for the devil who would appear at wakes and challenge the best fiddler to a competition. Hence this piece is composed for two violins played here by Brona Cahill and Michael d'Arcy who often play a semitone apart or a major sixth apart. The first part indicates the competition while the second part is meditative. After all, something has to give!

It is lively, dramatic music of the concertante type. It is mainly flowing as opposed to being static music; the slow section is evocative with a very real presence and sense of atmosphere.

James Wilson is the leading Irish composer of opera, having nine to his name. English-born he has lived in Ireland since the late 1940s and in the last year has taken Irish nationality. His opera Grinning at the Devil was a sell-out and a great triumph in Denmark. Sir Robert Mayer commissioned The Hunting of the Snark. Shakespeare was brilliantly portrayed in Twelfth Night and the madness of Van Gogh in Letters to Theo. He has composed two symphonies, a piano concerto for Gina Bachauer, which has laid in oblivion, two violin concertoes, a horn concerto, a cello concerto and the splendid Viola Concerto Menorah now available on Marco Polo. His vocal music is very special particularly his song cycles A Woman Young and Old and Irish Songs.

Arlecchino for solo flute was written for the Danish writer Elsa Glees who wrote the libretto for Grinning at the Devil. It is very brief. It hints at a classical style; its simplicity of utterance adds to its immediate and durable appeal It is a very attractive and unpretentious piece. Flautists should, indeed, must take it up.

Raymond Deane was born in County Galway in 1953 and has lived at various locations in Europe. Brown Studies is really a string quartet in four sections lasting about 23 minutes. There is no prize for working out the significance of the title. The first section, opening, pairs the instruments off.....first violin and cello and, second violin and viola. The second section, scattering, is marked con brio and is fragmentary. The interlude reverts to the opening and there follows a centri-fugue which quotes from Beethoven's Op 132. The final section, closing, quotes from Deane's opera The Wall of Cloud. The opening chord is eerie and strange. The mystery in this music is well caught. The material is memorable. There are some wonderful sonorities and super glissando effects without ugliness.. There is also a strange poignancy in the music. Here is an original mind. High tension and drama give way to pizzicato and errie chords. The second section has a Bartokian ruggedness which is always welcome. This is involved music but not for the shallow music lover. The mystery and sinister feel returns in the third section. It has good melodic fragments and an austere beauty of its own. The finale continues Deane's personal and intriguing style with a few surprises on the way..

Judith Mok is the soprano in two of Rhona's Five Songs with texts by Yeats and MacNiece. Like James Wilson, Rhona's music is somewhat understated . She has a good understanding of the voice. She has written two Glorias, Missa for the Dublin Secondary School Girls Choir, which was premiered in January 2000 (good piece too), piano and chamber music, film music and electronic music. These songs are well conceived and very appealing in the way of modern song. There is substance in these songs.

John McLachlan was born in Dublin in 1964 and has specialised in studying compositional techniques of the 1950s and 1960s. The Two Lyric Sketches are, in effect, another string quartet and the composer regards this as his first mature work. It won the Sligo Composers Competition in 1991. There is humour and, at first, a robust cello line. It is the slow music that reveals the lyricism.

The two pieces by Paul Hayes (born Dublin 1951) are miniatures for the piano and reveal Eastern influences. He has lived in Japan for a while. The first seems to be isolated long notes and seemingly facile but it does make an effect. The second is also limited and has little to say.

I enjoyed this disc immensely.

David Wright



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