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William Vincent WALLACE (1812-1865)
Celtic Fantasies
see end of review for track listing
Rosemary Tuck (piano), Richard Bonynge (piano)
rec. Forde Abbey, Chard, Somerset, UK, 9-11 October 2009
NAXOS 8.572775 [78.03]

William Vincent Wallace was born in Ireland and travelled widely during his youth - founding Australia’s first music festival and music academy during a stay there. He also visited the Caribbean and South America on his way to New Orleans and New York, all the while making quite a name for himself as a performer and composer.
 
Back in England he composed the opera Maritana, which was a tremendous success; yet his second opera Matilda found a colder reception, with the fickle public’s tastes having changed. He returned to America, where he was celebrated and dedicated himself to composing primarily piano works and songs. It was during this period that he brought out his first, popular, set of arrangements of Scottish and Irish melodies, which he then continued producing throughout the rest of his life. Moving back to England in 1857, he produced his third opera, Lurline. This was again highly acclaimed, yet when his following three operas once again fell foul of changes in taste, he turned to Paris, where he lived out his remaining days.
 
In total around 200 piano works came from his fertile pen, about a quarter of which were based upon traditional Irish and Scottish music; in which genre he had been immersed as a child by his musical family.
 
The arrangements presented here by Rosemary Tuck often link two different melodies, whether dance tunes, songs, jigs or marches; Wallace had arranged, interwoven and combined them into piano fantasies, sometimes in the form of variations.
 
One can well comprehend the popularity of these works, particularly in America, given the inclusion of some much-loved and well-known tunes such as Ye Banks and Braes, the Blue Bells of Scotland, the Yellow Haired Laddie and even Home Sweet Home, which Wallace here turns into a grandiose and unsentimental piece. The arrangements are all highly impressive - intriguing and well-crafted. The performances on this disc all do the works and composer justice, although I did rather feel that the boisterous and fun The Weary Pund o' Tow and There's Nae Luck About This House, which almost foreshadows Percy Grainger,could be a bit more lively and effervescent. The four-handed Ye Banks and Brae, in which Rosemary Tuck is joined by Richard Bonynge, is particularly spectacular, making this altogether a satisfying and enjoyable release.
 
Em Marshall-Luck 

Previous review: Byzantion 

Track listing
The Yellow Hair'd Laddie and Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad [3:37]
Brilliant Fantasia on My Nanny, O! and My Ain Kind Dearie and Bonnie Dundee [5:13]
The Gloomy Night is Gathering Fast and The Lass o' Gowrie [5:23]
Go Where the Glory Waits Thee and Love's Young Dream [3:31]
When Ye Gang Awa' Jamie [2:56]
The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls and Fly Not Yet [3:36]
Desmond's Song [4:56]
Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms and An Irish Melody [3:04]
The Blue Bells of Scotland [3:44]
Fantaisie brillante de Salon pour piano sur des Melodies Ecossaises: Roy's Wife and We're a' Noddin' [4:30]
John Anderson My Jo and Thou Hast Left Me Forever, Jamie [3:46]
The Weary Pund o' Tow and There's Nae Luck About This House [3:10]
Flow On, Thou Shining River and Nora Creina [4:03]
Maggie Lauder [2:43]
Rondino on the Scotch Melody Bonnie Prince Charlie [3:03]
Kinloch of Kinloch and I'm O'er Young to Marry Yet [3:24]
Scots Wha Hae [4:46]
Home Sweet Home - Ballade [4:51]
Ye Banks and Braes [3:36]
Auld Robin Gray and The Boatie Rows [4:12]


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