The programme comprises:
The Towing Path
Two Pieces: April
Decorations: The Island Spell
The Scarlet Ceremonies
Leaves from a Child's Sketchbook: By the Mere
In the Meadows
The Hunt's Up
The Darkened Valley
Three Pastels: A Grecian Lad
The Boy Bishop
Two Pieces: February's Child
I have to say that I gave Mr Lenehan's first volume of Ireland's piano music
a rather chilly review and I regret to say my reaction to his second Ireland
collection is not much warmer.
I remember talking to Eric Parkin who has recorded Ireland's piano music
and he told me that Ireland was most emphatic about not wanting his music
to be hurried; he was very sensitive to the chordal movement and wanted every
note to be heard (Ireland writes lots of notes in his music). Ireland's music
is romantic and impressonistic; in fact he was very much influenced by the
music of Debussy and Ravel (and Gershwin).
Lenehan tends to hurry too much to the detriment of the music. Listening
to Eric Parkin's readings one is immediately impressed with how much more
colour, rhythmic variety and potency, character and depth that Parkin brings
to these charming little works. I compared the first three numbers on Mr
Lenehan's programme with their Chandos equivalents (more warmly and more
resonantly recorded). Parkin's Merry Andrew, (3:01) as opposed to Lenehan's
(2:49) shows more pathos beneath the frenetic exuberance in fact Parkin reveals
far more character facets. In The Towing Path, Parkin (3:49) has that extra
delicacy and fragility and he suggests a nostalgia and a sad Delian transience
as well as drawing just an idyllic portrait of Thameside village (Lenehan
3:40). Lenehan rushes through the Rhapsody (7:31) missing Parkin's finesse
and fine line contrasts (8:17).
Lest I be thought too harsh, Lenehan is overall quite sympathetic and I warmed
to some interpretations notably his evocative The Island Spell and Moon-Glade
from Decorations and two of the Three Pastels: A Grecian Lad and The Boy
Bishop. Against his trend he dawdles over By the Mere and the Moderato first
movement of the Sonatina.
The Darkened Valley is erroneously grouped with Leaves from a Child's Sketchbook
in the booklet.
I suggest that newcomers to John Ireland might sample this bargain album
and then move up to the more satisfying Chandos recordings. Eric Parkin has
a touch that is pure magic as afar as John Ireland is concerned.