Saturday, 2 May 2009

John Ireland: Clarinet Trio, Sextet and Fantasy-Sonat on Naxos

John IRELAND (1879-1962) Trio in D for clarinet, cello and piano (ed. & reconstr. by Stephen Fox) (1912-3) Fantasy Sonata for clarinet and piano (1943) The Holy Boy for clarinet and piano (1913) Sextet for clarinet, French horn and string quartet (1898)
Robert Plane (clarinet); Sophie Rahman (piano); Alice Neary (cello, Trio); David Pyatt (French horn, Sextet); Maggini Quartet, Lorraine McAslan (violin 1); David Angel (violin 2); Martin Outram (viola); Michal Kaznowski (cello) NAXOS 8.570550

John Ireland is one of my favourite composers and it is always a pleasure to review a CD of his music. This is especially the case when the disc features a piece that I have not heard before. Last year I noted in The Land of Lost Content that Stephen Fox had written a fine essay on the rediscovery and realisation of John Ireland’s ‘forgotten’ Clarinet Trio. I noted there that I was looking forward to hearing this piece.
In my present review I felt that “this is a great discovery for a host of reasons. But, as I listened to this piece, I felt that the overriding achievement has been the resurrection of a quintessential Ireland work. It is an interesting composition that has many highlights and not a few truly lovely moments. It is a piece that will have to work its way into the British Music enthusiast’s psyche, however, even a superficial hearing is enough to convince the listener that it is certainly an injustice that this work has been unheard and unavailable for such a long time. Full marks to Stephen Fox!"

Included on this CD are the wonderful Fantasy-Sonata for Clarinet and Piano- I think I knew this work even before my school-boy discovery of the song "If there were Dreams to Sell" or the London Pieces which I seem to have known and loved all my life. The Holy Boy, for clarinet and piano, is an attractive, but rarely presented, version of this ubiquitous piece. And finally the Sextet which was composer Sextet was written after the nineteen year old composer had heard Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet with Richard Mühlfeld and the Joachim Quartet.

I concluded my review by noting that “The performances of these works are first rate. This recording makes a fine stable-mate to the Melos and Holywell Ensemble versions of the Sextet on ASV and Lyrita and the Fantasy Sonata played by Gervase de Peyer and Eric Parkin on the latter label This CD is a must for all Ireland enthusiasts – however many recordings of the Fantasy Sonata there are (9); there is always room for one more – and this present CD is a great one!"

Please read my full review at MusicWeb International

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