In this fourth and final survey of John Ireland’s piano music, Mark Bebbington has selected works spanning the spectrum of Ireland’s creativity – from his earliest extant pieces ‘Daydream’ and ‘Meridian’, written in 1895 when only sixteen, through to his last piano piece ‘Columbine’ from 1951.
Although previous surveys of Ireland’s piano music on Chandos, Lyrita and Naxos labels have all laid claim to the term ‘integrale’, Bebbington’s Somm cycle is the only one to incorporate previously undiscovered manuscript and transcription sources (here, in Volume 4, represented by the premiere recording of ‘Epic March’ transcription) which have only recently been released by the John Ireland Trust.
Ireland’s miniatures lie at the heart of this 4th Volume, from the chromatic eloquence of ‘A Grecian Lad’ and ‘The Boy Bishop'(Pastels) to the pantheistic yearning of ‘Months Mind’ – this repertoire reveals the heart of Ireland’s complex and contradictory inner world.
Although most of the music here is confessional and confiding in tone, several tracks demonstrate a pianistic flamboyance and unbridled optimism that is seldom encountered in the composer – notably ‘Puck’s Birthday’ and ‘Merry Andrew’.
Perhaps most unusually, Ireland finds an early twentieth-century Russian grandeur in ‘Equinox’ – a youthful work from 1922 that shows the potent influence of Scriabin and Rachmaninov.
This CD, then, continues the fine standards of twentieth-century British piano music set by Mark Bebbington’s and Somm’s previous releases – most notably BBC Music Magazine’s consistent 5***** recognition of their three earlier John Ireland releases and their completed cycle of solo Frank Bridge
In May 2011, International Piano Magazine summed up Bebbington’s achievements:-
“His revivals of British music are second to none; he could well be dubbed the concert pianists’ Richard Hickox. Bebbington has almost single-handedly demonstrated that 20th-century British piano scores have an exciting role to play in the concert hall and recording studio.”
On This Recording
- The Towing Path
- 3 Pastels: No. 1. A Grecian Lad
- 3 Pastels: No. 2. The Boy Bishop
- 3 Pastels: No. 3. Puck’s Birthday
- Summer Evening
- Spring Will Not Wait
- In Those Days: No. 1. Daydream
- In Those Days: No. 2. Meridian
- Merry Andrew
- Leaves from a Child’s Sketchbook: No. 1. By the Mere
- Leaves from a Child’s Sketchbook: No. 2. In the Meadow
- Leaves from a Child’s Sketchbook: No. 3. The Hunt’s Up
- 6 Schubler Chorales: 6 Schubler Chorales, BWV 645-650: Meine Seele erhebt den Herren, BWV 648 (arr. J. Ireland)
- Epic March: Epic March (version for piano)
- Month’s Mind
- On a Birthday Morning