December 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Michael McLennan
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster: Len Mullenger

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Irish Rhapsody  
Traditionals arranged by Leroy Anderson, George M Cohan, Shamus O’Connor and Richard Hayman
Conducted by Richard Hayman and performed by his Orchestra
  Available on NAXOS (8.555016)
Running Time: 58:17
Crotchet   Amazon UK   Amazon US

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.

Ian Lace

Rating: N/A

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