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JOHN IRELAND songs Rachel Ann Morgan (mezzo soprano), Tan Crone (piano) Etcetera KTC 1128 (Koch International)

 

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Some time ago, greatly impressed with the catalogue of Etcetera, I tried, vainly, to obtain several CDs (notably this one - Viola works by Dale, and Violin by Godowsky). I am now curious that this label has become available via Koch International. Whatever the answer, this very interesting selection of Irelandís solo songs by the Welsh mezzo, Rachel Ann Morgan, and her sensitive partner, the Dutch pianist, Tan Crone, is well worth having. The songs are presented chronologically, from around 1912/13 to 1931 (after which Ireland wrote only the Five 16th Century Poems and a few choir items) - and so it is, I suppose, reasonable to assume that this represents an overall survey of Irelandís songs. To an extent it does - including two remarkable sets of songs Mother and Child (1918) and Songs Sacred and Profane (1929/31) - and from these two sets alone one may appreciate Irelandís development. It is also true to say that his personality in music was formed early - for by the date of the earliest song here he had written The Forgotten Rite, Decorations his first Violin Sonata and Phantasie Trio. He had published several early songs - and perhaps the inclusion on this recital of the early very Edwardian ballad A Song from over the Hill reinforces the impression that, given the omissions of two very important compositions, Marigold (1913) and Earthís Call (1918), as well as that of the later Hardy settings, we are presented with the more essentially lyrical side of the composer. Although there is melancholy - in Spring Sorrow, in When I am dead and If we must part - there is little if anything of the dark introspection of The Tragedy of that moment or of The Vain Desire. There are Ďhushed and breathless momentsí but we only become conscious of introspection in the final set of Sacred and Profane. I would be delighted if the two soloists would consider completing the picture by recording now the other songs of Ireland which, if concluded with the 16th Century songs would present a rounded picture of a composer whose sensitivity to verse was one of the major well-springs of his creativity.

Reviewer

Colin Scott-Sutherland

Reviewer

Colin Scott-Sutherland

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