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SILVER APPLES OF THE MOON: Irish Classical Music.
Irish Chamber Orchestra/Fionnuala Hunt.
Black Box BBM 1003

CD available for post-free online mail-order or you may download individual tracks. For some labels you can download the entire CD with a single click and make HUGE savings. The price you see is the price you pay! The full booklet notes are available on-line.

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SILVER APPLES OF THE MOON: This enigmatic quotation from Yeats conceals an evocative selection of string music - relating, in its lush tangy harmonies to the music of Warlock and Moeran. It is characteristically Irish, at one moment sentimental, at another full of foot-tapping geniality. Irish classical music really only came into its own with the advent of the Republic. The composers represented here all however took equally important parts in Irish musical education - the two most notable being John F Larchet (a friend of Moeran and Director of Music at the Abbey Theatre) and Aloys Fleischmann, who from the early age of 24 held the chair of music at Cork University. It could well be that the name most familiar on this disc might be that of Joan Trimble, better known perhaps in her dual role as pianist with her sister Valerie. Her contribution, a three movement Suite, is in essence more cogent in idiom that the others (except Fleischmann) the music having some of the harmonic acerbity of John Ireland. It loses none of its Irishness in the eloquent slow movement - the Finale an energetic ‘birl’.

Thomas C Kelly (1917-85), who taught at Clongowes Wood College, has written many arrangements of Irish folk music. His Three Pieces for Strings dates from 1949. The opening Pastoral (the enchanting melody written originally for the fairy child’s song in ‘The Land of Heart’s Desire’) is followed by a dark hued cello Lament. The final Reel, with its minor cast, is far more than a piece of dance music. His O’Carolan Suite in five movements in Baroque style is for solo violin and strings, and based on melodies of the ancient Irish harper (1670-1738), Planxty being an old dance form. Arthur Duff’s popular Suite opens with a reflective melody in traditional Irish dress recalling Midir’s love for Etain. The cheery ‘Windy Gap’ of Wicklow is followed by a poignant reminiscence of the Messiah performance of 1742. The Dance of Daemar recalls Tir nan Og and all is swept away in the final Fiddler’s Reel. John F Larchet’s Macananty’s Reel just possibly the homecoming of the famous Fairy King of Scarbo, - is contrasted with his Dirge of Ossian, a funeral hymn from the Glens of Derry. The most substantial work is however Fleischmann’s Elizabeth McDermott Roe - the separately published (1952) 3rd movement of The Humours of Carolan - but its reference to the Irish harper, unlike Kelly’s, is a transition of the mood of the melody to the 20th century, exploring its darker aspects, evoking the bleaker side to that ‘land beneath the visiting moon’. Irish music is not well represented on CD, and more of this calibre would be very welcome.


Colin Scott-Sutherland

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