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The Last Rose of Summer
TRADITIONAL arr. John STEVENSON (1761-1833) (Words by Thomas Moore) The last rose of summer [3:36]; Believe me if all those endearing young charms [2:42]; The meeting of the waters [3:14]
Percy FRENCH (1854-1920) (Words by M Helen French) Ach, I dunno [2:51]; Phil the Fluter’s ball [3:04]
TRADITIONAL, arr. Phyllis TATE (1911-1987) (Words by Samuel Fergusson) The lark in the clean air [2:04]
Arthur COLAHAN (1885-1952) Galway Bay [2:45]
TRADITIONAL She moved thro’ the fair [2:13]; The Coulin [1:12]
Philip GREEN / Percy FRENCH Gortnamona [3:03]
TRADITIONAL (Words by Fred Weatherly) Danny Boy [3:17]
TRADITIONAL arr. Charles STANFORD (1852-1924) The falling star [3:49]; The beautiful city of Sligo [2:21]; The stolen heart [2:24]
TRADITIONAL arr. Herbert HUGHES (1882-1937) (Words by Patrick Joyce) The leprechaun [1:28]; I have a bonnet trimmed with blue [0:48]; A young maid stood in her father’s garden [3:13]; The next market day [1:10]; The Bard of Armagh [3:45]; Monday, Tuesday [2:20]; The stuttering lovers [1:36]; I will walk with my love [1:49]; The cork leg [3:01]
Chauncey OLCOTT (1858-1932) and Ernest R BALL (1878-1927) (Words by Rida Johnson Young) Mother Machree [2:40]
TRADITIONAL arr. Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) (Words by Thomas Moore) Oft in the stilly night [2:42]; How sweet the answer [2:05]; O the sight entrancing [2:02]; The last rose of summer [3:46]
Ann Murray (mezzo-soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
rec. Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, 14-15 September 1992 DDD
HYPERION CDH55210 [73.24]

Ireland is a country whose magical beauty gives rise to song. Some of the most charming of these songs are collected here, performed, aptly enough, by an Irish artist. Ann Murray was born in Dublin and holds an honorary Doctorate of Music at the National University of Ireland.

The compilation comprises a thorough mixture of traditional songs, both unaccompanied (such as the stunningly beautiful She moved thro’ the fair), or in settings ranging from those by well known Britishers such as Stanford and Britten to lesser- known composers and arrangers (Herbert Hughes and Sir John Stevenson), as well as a few original songs. It is an excellent selection, providing good contrasts and a wonderful insight into the fable of traditional life in Ireland.

Murray has a lovely clear, pure voice, both powerful and quite sweet-sounding, with wonderful enunciation, and a very nice Irish accent that she adopts appealingly for Phil the Fluter’s Ball, The stuttering lovers and the gorgeous Ach, I dunno. Fairly virtuosic (listen to the Britten arrangements), given to evocative word-painting (the word "brightness", for example, in The Meeting of the Waters) and very flexible, she is the perfect choice for this disc. Songs vary from very light, athletic and vivacious such as The Leprechaun and I have a bonnet trimmed with blue, or the comic Phil The Fluter’s Ball and The cork leg, in both of which Murray and Graham Johnson (in the brilliant piano parts) capture the humour well, to dark, heavy, and dramatic (The falling star and The stolen heart) – all of which she invests with passion and the most accomplished singing.

The original songs - Galway Bay by Arthur Colahan, Phil the Fluter’s Ball by Percy French, Mother Machree by Chauncey Olcott and Ernest Ball and Gortnamona by Philip Green - are just as enchanting as the traditional ones – particularly the charming and frolicsome Phil the Fluter’s Ball and the touching Mother Machree.

A truly delightful collection, given an outstanding performance, this is a disc that is set to become a favourite ...

Em Marshall

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