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Mary McAULIFFE (b. 1947)
Return to Old Ireland
1. Gloria! [6:14]
2. Leaving: A Famine Victim’s Cry of Desolation [9:49]
3. A Dawn Song [3:12]
4. The Drifter [2:45]
5. Down by the Salley Gardens [3:38]
6. Frolics [2:33]
7. When You Are Old [4:45]
8. Return to Old Ireland [14:37]
Donald George (tenor)
Lucy Mauro (piano)
West Virginia University Choir; West Virginia University Studio Orchestra/Jeffry Blake Johnson
The Michael O’Neal Singers/Michael O’Neal
rec. 2000-12, Roswell United Methodist Church, Roswell; West Virginia University
Sung texts enclosed
DELOS DE1046 [47:36]

Mary McAuliffe was born in Cork and has composed choral and vocal works, instrumental music, film soundtracks and opera. Her music is frequently performed in Ireland, the US and Canada. It is accessible and her Irish roots can easily be discerned, but there are other elements as well. The opening Gloria! is rhythmically alluring and Gospel-like. I’ve heard more homogenous choral sounds but the commitment is never in question.

Leaving: A Famine Victim’s Cry of Desolation was unfortunately marred by a defect after 5:02, where my CD-player stuck. I did fast-forward just a few seconds and then everything was OK. The text is by the composer and it is a gripping composition. Donald George sings well but the recitation is muddled by too much echo in the first stanza.

The three solo songs, settings of Yeats, are attractive, folksy and very Irish. When You Are Old is dedicated to the late-lamented Bernadette Greevy. Donald George is again splendid. The Drifter is a syncopated piece for violin and piano with a distinct jazzy feel, and the lively Frolics – a fitting title – at once became my favourite. This short piano piece is even a world premiere recording.

Return to Old Ireland is the longest piece, a choral work in four movements with texts by, again, Yeats, Walt Whitman and the composer. There is a feeling of bagpipes in the opening. It is scored for SATB chorus, 2 flutes, oboe, English horn, string quartet, piano, organ, bodhrán (Irish frame drum) and timpani. It is a captivating composition, in particular the last movement, which is an apotheosis, of dance, repeating Yeats’ Come dance with me in Ireland after each stanza. It makes for a grandiose finale. It was recorded live and the audience was exalted but the applause is faded down quickly.

Lovers of Irish music shouldn’t hesitate.

Göran Forsling

Recording & performance details
West Virginia University Choir; West Virginia University Studio Orchestra/Jeffry Blake Johnson (tr. 1)
Donald George (tenor); Lee Blair (narrator); The WV Studio Choir; Cynthia Babin Anderson (oboe); Mikylah Myers McTeer (violin I); Timothy Tan (violin II); Andrea Priester Houde (viola); William Skidmore (cello); Sora Lee (piano) (tr. 2)
Donald George (tenor), Lucy Mauro (piano) (trs. 3, 5, 7)
Mikylah Myers McTeer (violin), Lucy Mauro (piano) (tr. 4)
Lucy Mauro (piano) (tr. 6)
The Michael O’Neal Singers/Michael O’Neal (tr. 8)

17 March 2000, Roswell United Methodist Church, Roswell, GA (tr. 8); 7 December 2011, Lyell B. Clay Theater, West Virginia University (tr. 1); 8 February 2012 (tr. 2); 4-6 May 2012 (tr. 3, 5, 7); 17 December 2012 (tr. 4, 6), Bloch Hall, West Virginia University.



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