Thursday, 10 January 2008

The Clarinet Trio of John Ireland

Stephen Fox has written a fascinating study of a work that I never knew existed. Now, John Ireland is one of my favourite composers and I especially love his piano music and songs but I have never picked up on this particular 'lost' work. The Clarinet Trio was composed before the Great War and after a couple of performances was quietly forgotten. The holograph has become mutilated and Fox needed to do considerable reconstructive work. All congratulations to him for a good job well done!

The piece is scored for clarinet, cello and piano – a rare chamber combination indeed. In fact, the author states that “as the only piece for this standard instrumental combination to be found in the rich and distinctive genre of British late Romantic music, it should become a significant addition to the repertoire.” The work has been given a number of performances and I look forward to hearing the Riverdale Ensemble's recording.

Ireland later wrote a fine Clarinet Sonata which is regarded as being one of his masterworks. I wonder how critics will regard the Trio?

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