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Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)
Songs Of Old Ireland: Irish Folk Melodies Arranged by Charles Villiers Stanford
Gilberto Fornito (flute, piccolo)
Christopher Howell (piano)
rec. Studio L'Eremita, Lessona, Italy, 12 December 2009; 20 March 2010. DDD
SHEVA SH031 [64:08]

Experience Classicsonline

From: 50 Songs of Old Ireland (1892):
The Return from Fingal [2:44]
I Heard 'mid Oak-Trees Olden [2:04]
My Love's an Arbutus [2:44]
'Tis I Can Weave Woollen and Linen [1:35]
An Irish Lullaby [4:09]
From: 30 Irish Songs and Ballads (1893):
Sweet Isle (Air: O'Connor’s Lament) [2:47]
Our Iniskilling Boy (Air: The Irish Lad's a Jolly Boy) [1:31]
The Irish Reel [1:20]
From: 50 Songs of Erin, op.76 (1900):
The Falling Star (Air: Caoine) [4:10]
The Heroes of the Sea (Air: Street Ballad) [1:14]
The Leafy Cool-Kellure (Air: The White-Breasted Boy) [2:20]
The Alarm (Air: Leatherbags Donnell) [1:12]
The Melody of the Harp (Air: The Melody of the Harp) [2:59]
Marching to Candahar [1:09]
Eva Toole [1:38]
From: The Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore: the Original Airs Restored & Arranged, op.60 (1894):
Remember the Glories of Brien the Brave (Air: Molly McAlpin) [2:13]
The Song of Fionnuala (Air: Arrah, my Dear Eveleen) [3:39]
Let Erin Remember the Days of Old (Air: The Little Red Fox) [2:21]
'Tis the Last Rose of Summer (Air: The Groves of Blarney) [4:17]
As a Beam o'er the Face of the Waters (Air: The Young Man's Dream) [2:50]
The Meeting of the Waters (Air: The Old Head of Dennis) [2:02]
How Dear to me the Hour (Air: The Twisting of the Rope) [3:45]
The Wine-Cup is Circling (Air: Michael Hoy) [1:49]
It is Not the Tear (Air: The Sixpence) [3:08]
From: Six Irish Folksongs (1924):
The Irish Lover (The Londonderry Air) [3:03]

This CD was previously reviewed here. The title is misleading - these are not strictly songs, nor are they as arranged by Stanford. This is in fact a fairly random grouping of Irish folk tunes drawn from Stanford's various collections of songs further arranged (presumably) by Gilberto Fornito for flute.
According to Christopher Howell's booklet notes, the arrangements were undertaken because the texts of Stanford's close friend, A.P. Graves, include "allusions to abstruse historical events" which, along with his "would-be poetic diction" are felt to "weigh heavily upon performance, while some of his humorous poems verge on the bad Irish joke." That is as may be but by the same argument, a good half of all operas and lieder ever written would have to be binned. Allusions to historical events aside, moreover, similar objections to the trite doggerel of pop song lyrics may be raised, but that does not stop them being relentlessly inflicted on new millions!
At least Stanford's music - his Romantic colourisation of folk material, naturally - has been more or less preserved intact. Nevertheless, given the rather arbitrary selection of pieces from Stanford's scores of arrangements - the tracks have been grouped in the listing above to allow a clearer picture of what comes from where, but the recording has them in a more or less random order - Fornito's rather unpolished flute and the lacklustre, slightly removed recorded sound, there is still no compelling reason at least for the art music fan to covet this release.
The best way to consider the disc is filed under 'easy listening.' As such it represents a reasonable, relaxing purchase - perhaps for background music to Irish-themed soirées, if such things still exist - although even then it might be as well to listen in smaller chunks. Even allowing for the alternation of flute and piccolo, and Stanford's attractive sculptings, there is only so much variation to begin with in folk music! It may also appeal to flautists looking for ideas for practice and performance, particularly amateurs.

see also review by John France


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