If you look at the
CD catalogue I wonder if anyone has
done more for British music in such
a short time. Go back to his first LP
made for RCA circa 1978 with the Hickox
Singers and presenting Rubbra's masses
including the Cantuarensis and two carols.
There were then more than a few discs
for EMI and a veritable cataract from
Chandos. In terms of number of discs
issued over a short period he surely
outstrips in productivity Boult, Del
Mar, Groves and Handley. He was in the
right place at the right time and that
certainly shows especially where, as
here, the music plays to his strengths.
John Ireland is best
known for his piano solos which have
been well served by Chandos and before
them by Lyrita. Both companies also
explored the chamber music and orchestral
music. This disc was part of the Hickox
contribution to the latter. It mixes
choral works with purely orchestral
pieces and complements the Bryden Thomson
disc of Ireland's Piano Concerto, Legend
and Mai Dun.
Here three choral-orchestral
scores meet three purely orchestral
pieces. In this company These Things
Shall Be stands very high indeed.
The Holy Boy is gentle though
I think it might have been done even
more sensitively. The overture and the
march are fun in their raucous splendour.
The first two pieces
have a gaunt scorching choral blast
and a big surging choral sound. Thee
music carries the mark of Elgar and
to a lesser extent Stanford. The lambent
high notes at the end of Greater
Love reach towards the These
things shall be. Speaking of which
the orchestral playing aptly crackles
with aggression. The subtle choral writing
is balm-filled as well as radiating
a blazing intensity. Subtlety can be
heard in the modestly intoned Internationale.
There are times in listening to this
piece where the hairs raise on the nape
of your neck. And this happens despite
our fatigued ideals, the knowing snigger
and our weary spin-spun world. The women's
voices are utterly magical on the words
‘transcending all we gaze upon’ (20.37).
They are as high and as gleamingly golden
as anything in Hadley's The Trees
So High. Bryn Terfel now elevated
to the exalted order of the cross-over
album is in sturdy voice though the
incipient vibrato is in bud.
The Epic March which
shares some of the rasp and grip of
These Things lacks the brash
thrust of the Boult version on an old
Lyrita LP. It could have gone with yet
more zest although I do not see anyone
topping Hickox's brass in their imperious
arrogance; just what the doctor ordered
for the early 1940s! There is no hint
here of Arthur Machen or the pre-Roman
gods and the subtle magic he invoked
in Sarnia, Mai Dun, Legend
and The Forgotten Rite. This
is more a case of Walton (the two coronation
marches), Ferguson (Overture for
an Occasion) and Elgar P&C4.
The London Overture is done with crackling
Elgarian bustle and is raucously Baxian.
It would go well with Cockaigne
and with Arthur Butterworth’s splendid
The notes are in the
safe hands of Lewis Foreman. Full texts
are printed in the booklet with translations
into French and German.
In the frankly glorious
These Things Shall Be we meet
the grand and idealistic John Ireland.
The snappily ceremonial public face
is to be found here alongside some superb