So many of the tunes heard on this CD have
been used in countless films touching on Eira; its people and its troubled
history. For instance, George M. Cohan, is probably best remembered through
James Cagney’s portrayal of him in Yankee Doodle Dandy. Cohan,
composer, writer, actor, director and producer, wrote many Broadway shows
including Ah! Wilderness, and Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway
(that included the song, ‘Mary’s a Grand Old Name’) and Little Johnny Jones
(that had ‘Give My Regards to Broadway’ and ‘Yankee Doodle Boy’.) His amiable
‘An Old Fashioned Sing-Along Melody’ includes all the aforementioned songs plus
‘You’re a Grand Old Flag’.
It is notable that much of this material is
seen through Irish American eyes - a result of the homesickness felt by so many
in the wake of the great Irish Diaspora? In fact more than one well-known,
well-loved ‘Irish’ melody was penned by an American-Irishman.
Indeed, the late-nineteenth-century leading
light of the American musical theatre, Victor Herbert, was born in Dublin. As Peter Dempsey points out, in his usual erudite notes, Herbert was “a perfect
prototype of the Americanised Irishman. After training in Stuttgart and Vienna, he won early fame as a cellist before producing his first light opera, in a series
of more than forty, on Broadway, in 1894.” His Irish Rhapsody is an
affectionate and proud tribute to the Emerald Isle consisting of tunes familiar
and not-so-well-known; there are smiles but deep sadness too for you can sense
the tragedy of the 1840s, for instance, in the darker reaches of this music.
Additionally Hayman swaggers proudly through the jolly marching song ‘The Irish
Have a Great Day Tonight’ from Herbert’s ill-fated operetta, Eileen.
The American composer, Leroy Anderson is
well known as the composer of so many outstanding light music classics like Sleigh
Ride, Blue Tango and The Typewriter. Hayman’s concert opens with
Leroy Anderson’s tasteful, affectionate tribute, his Irish Suite, and
who could not be moved by the lovely elegy Anderson fashions from ‘The Minstrel
Boy’ or amused by the cheeky perkiness of ‘The Rakes of Mallow’, or moved again
by the sweet sentimentality of ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ or stirred by the
marching rhythms of ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me’?
Conductor Richard Hayman includes his
mischievous, cocking-the-snook arrangement of Seamus O’Connor’s Macnamara’s
Band. Deeply affecting nostalgia is conversely felt in the orchestra’s
rendition of the Traditional Irish Tune from County Derry Elsewhere,
Hayman uses solo piano and harmonica to introduce his nostalgic arrangement of
‘My Darling Irish Rose’ and he ends the concert with his Sing-Along Melody’
again featuring the harmonica introduction but this time with harp. Yes, with
such affectionate playing ‘Irish Eyes Are Smiling’.
Sensitive renderings of familiar Irish
songs lovingly performed by the Hayman Orchestra.