John IRELAND (1879-1962)
String Quartet No. 1 in D minor (1897) (Allegro [8:02]; Molto Allegro [4:32]; Andante
Moderato [4:42]; Finale: Vivace [5:09]) The Holy Boy (arr. 1941) [3:16]
String Quartet No. 2 in C minor(1898) (Allegro Moderato [9:11]; Nocturne: Andante [7:28]; Scherzo:
Presto [4:58]; Pocol Allegro – Vivace [10:04])
Quartet (Laurence Jackson (violin); David Angel (violin);
Martin Outram (viola); Michael Kaznowski (cello))
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, 21-23 January 2004 NAXOS 8.557777 [57:22]
English music gem from Naxos, including Ireland’s two strings
quartets and a quartet version of his famous Holy Boy.
The string quartets are both early works, written while Ireland
was studying at the Royal College of Music. The first quartet
was composed in 1897 as an attempt to impress Stanford, whom
Ireland regarded very highly and wanted as a teacher. Although
Stanford apparently dismissed the work as “dull as ditchwater,
m’ bhoy”, he nonetheless arranged a performance of it by
the students, and Parry, then the Director of the College,
commended it. Ireland wrote the second quartet six months
later, and, in the end, achieved his great desire, and was
given a four-year scholarship to study with Stanford. Although
Ireland’s own voice has not yet emerged in these works, and
they show the influence of other composers, such as Brahms,
they are well-written, assured and delightful pieces.
only other work for string quartet is an arrangement (one
of a number, for different combinations of instruments) he
made in 1941 of the third of his Four Preludes for
piano, the Holy Boy.
Maggini Quartet’s performances on this disc cannot be faulted – the
playing is beautifully lyrical, expressive and sensitive.
They work together brilliantly as an ensemble, and, importantly,
allow the music to breathe, never hurrying, but taking the
works at a relaxed – but never sluggish – pace; listen to
their gorgeously romantic and evocative version of the Holy
Boy. They capture the nuances and various moods of the
music well, from delicate and gossamer through to robust
and vigorous, in boldly confident playing. Hear the first
movement of the second string quartet, for example.
works and radiant performances. A must.
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