Richard Hayman's virtuoso players and their bright
and breezy way with light music classics have enlivened other
Naxos releases. This time they
turn their attention to the music of Eire.
It is notable that much of this material is seen
through Irish-American eyes - a result of the homesickness felt
by so many in the wake of the great Irish diaspora? In fact
more than one well-known, well-loved 'Irish' melody was penned
by an American-Irishman.
Indeed, the late-nineteenth-century leading light
of the American musical theatre, Victor Herbert, was born in
Dublin. As Peter Dempsey points
out, in his usual erudite notes, Herbert was "a perfect
prototype of the Americanised Irishman. After training in Stuttgart and Vienna, he won early fame as a cellist before producing
his first light opera, in a series of more than forty, on Broadway,
in 1894." His Irish Rhapsody is an affectionate and proud
tribute to the Emerald Isle consisting of tunes familiar and
not-so-well-known. There are smiles but deep sadness too for
you can sense the tragedy of the 1840s, for instance, in the
darker reaches of this music. Additionally Hayman swaggers proudly
through the jolly marching song 'The Irish Have a Great Day
Tonight' from Herbert's ill-fated operetta, Eileen.
The American composer, Leroy Anderson is well known
as the composer of so many outstanding light music classics
like Sleigh Ride, Blue Tango and The Typewriter.
Hayman's concert opens with Leroy Anderson's tasteful, affectionate
tribute, his Irish Suite, and who could not be moved
by the lovely elegy Anderson fashions from 'The Minstrel Boy'
or amused by the cheeky perkiness of 'The Rakes of Mallow',
or moved again by the sweet sentimentality of 'The Last Rose
of Summer' or stirred by the marching rhythms of 'The Girl I
Left Behind Me'?
George M. Cohan, is probably best remembered through
James Cagney's portrayal in Yankee Doodle Dandy. Cohan,
composer, writer, actor, director and producer, wrote many Broadway
shows including Ah! Wilderness, and Forty-Five Minutes
from Broadway (that included the song, 'Mary's a Grand Old
Name') and Little Johnny Jones (that had 'Give My Regards
to Broadway' and 'Yankee Doodle Boy'). His amiable 'An Old Fashioned
Sing-Along Melody' includes all the aforementioned songs plus
'You're a Grand Old Flag'.
Conductor Richard Hayman includes his mischievous,
cocking-the-snook arrangement of Seamus O'Connor's Macnamara's
Band. Deeply affecting nostalgia is conversely felt in the
orchestra's rendition of the Traditional Irish Tune from
County Derry. Elsewhere, Hayman uses solo piano and harmonica
to introduce his nostalgic arrangement of 'My Darling Irish
Rose' and he ends the concert with his ‘Sing-Along Melody',
again featuring the harmonica introduction but this time with
harp. Yes, with such affectionate playing, 'Irish Eyes Are Smiling'.
Sensitive renderings of familiar Irish songs lovingly
performed by the Hayman Orchestra.