MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Seán Ó RIADA (1931–1971)
Overture Olynthiac (1955) [6:25]
The Banks of Sulán (1956) [9:09]
Hercules Dux Ferrariae: Nomos No.1 (1957) [18:39]
Seoladh na nGamhan (1959) [8:30]
Nomos No.4 for Piano and Orchestra (1957/8) [13:11]
Mise Éire: Orchestral Suite (1959) [8:52]
Mná na hÉireann (arr. Noel Kelehan) [2:52]
Cathal Breslin (piano); Seán Ó Sé (vocal)
RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra; RTÉ Concert Orchestra/Robert Houlihan, Proinnsías Ó Duinn
rec. National Concert Hall, Dublin, 30 May-2 June 2011 (Overture, The Banks of Sulán, Nomos No.1, Seoladh na nGamhan, Nomos No.4); RTÉ Studio 1, Dublin, 10-12 November 2004 (Mise Éire) and (live) University College Cork, 24 June 1999 (Mná na hÉireann)
RTÉ LYRIC FM CD136 [67:14]

Experience Classicsonline

Seán Ó Riada led a tragically short life. This did not prevent him from leaving a substantial catalogue of which the release under review provides a fair survey. He was much interested in Irish folk music of which he made a number of arrangements. The genre often informs his concert music as can be heard in some of the works recorded here such as The Banks of Sulán, Seoladh na nGamhan (“The Herding of the Calves”) and parts of the score for the film Mise Éire.

Ó Riada's first major score Overture Olynthiac is totally devoid of any folk-inspired elements. This short work by a young composer displays a remarkable orchestral flair. One cannot but wonder why such an attractive piece is so rarely heard. I sincerely hope that this superb performance will encourage some wider, hugely deserved exposure. By the way, I wish the sleeve-notes had told us what “Olynthiac” means although this does not seem essential for one's enjoyment of this brightly ebullient music.

The Banks of Sulán and Seoladh na nGamhan are clearly folk-influenced but here the approach to folk-song is somewhat different from that of, say, Vaughan Williams, Moeran or Grainger. Although both pieces are overtly pastoral in mood they evince an inner tension that one would not readily associate with folk music. This is particularly clear in the rather tense central section of The Banks of Sulán. Seoladh na nGamhan, too, is far from simple or relaxed.

Ó Riada planned to compose a series of seven pieces sharing the title of Nomos. He managed to complete four. Besides the ones recorded here mention can be made of Nomos No.2 (1957/63) for baritone, chorus and orchestra and Nomos No.6 (1966) for orchestra. Nomos No.1 and Nomos No.4 are purely abstract pieces of music with no folk influence whatsoever. Indeed Hercules Dux Ferrariae: Nomos No.1 for String Orchestra (to give the piece its full title) is rather complex: two dodecaphonic tone rows rub shoulders with a theme from a work by Josquin des Prés. It may be described as a theme and variations. The brilliant, assured and varied string writing brings Britten's Frank Bridge Variations to mind. By the way record collectors of old may remember that a recording of this work was available on Claddagh during the LP era. Nomos No.4 is a diptych for piano and orchestra. It’s stylistically fairly close to Bartók, and particularly the Second and Third Piano Concertos. The first movement Andante opens with a forceful dialogue between percussion and piano whereas the second movement Allegro is primarily quick and rhythmic. A shortened re-statement of the opening rushes the music to three emphatic exclamations after which the music tiptoes away enigmatically. These two works amply demonstrate what the composer might have been about had he lived longer.

The score for the film Mise Éire is understandably simpler and more straightforward than both Nomoi. It’s deftly done and the composer's reliance on folk tunes is never overdone. There is much imaginative scoring throughout and the opening tune (Róisín Dubh) is likely to stay with you for a long time. It reappears in various guises later in the suite.

This most welcome release is filled-up with a live recording of Seán Ó Sé - a great friend of the composer - singing a folk-song tastefully arranged for orchestra by Noel Kelehan from the composer's original piano accompaniment. The tune sounds familiar to me. I may have heard it many years ago on a cassette of The Chieftains that I bought in Ireland. This short bit of music is quite beautiful and very moving.

Performances and recording are up to what one has come to expect from RTÉ Lyric FM. Everyone concerned responds with utmost conviction to Ó Riada's marvellous music. There is a great deal to enjoy here and I hope that RTÉ will not be too long in releasing more of this composer's orchestral music. Besides the aforementioned Nomos No.2 and Nomos No.6 there is also a Triptyque pour orchestre symphonique composed in 1960 in homage to three French painters.

Hubert Culot


















Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.