Track Two: The Last Rose of Summer (3.36 min)
Track Three and Four: Jigg - To Mr James Betagh, and Carolan’s Devotion, Carolan (3.41 & 2.30min)
Track Five: Partita, 2nd Movt, Ferguson (4.16 min)
Track Six: The Withering Of The Boughs, The Curlew, Warlock (9.08 min)
Track Seven: Londonderry Air, Anon (3.53 min)
In 1866, the first Irish Symphony was performed. It was written by a young man, twenty-three years old, part-Irish and part-Italian, the son of a bandsman, a former chorister at the Chapel Royal and Mendelssohn Scholar at the Royal Academy, and the possessor of both exquisite manners and a dashing, emotive style. It was the non-partisan product of a holiday in Northern Ireland made a couple of years before. Here is the Scherzo - as captivating in its first subject’s hopping from major to minor, and in its earnest but idealistic trio now as then. After a little bardic tuning-up, what a sprightly foreground and what a landscape in perspective in the alternating Allegretto oboe tune and deep-breathed moderato scalic theme; everywhere, cheeky or heartfelt harmonies! The young composer? Arthur, later Sir Arthur, Sullivan.
Track Eight: Irish Symphony, Sullivan (6.18 min)
Sir Charles Villiers Stanford was a middle-class Ulsterman. His Irish brogue was strong, but he was a typical artistic product of the Ascendancy, erudite, clear-minded and hard-working; music took over his life. He loved folksong, Loyalist or Nationalist, and became both a talented composer and superbly negative teacher, one, furthermore, who drew foremost European composers to Cambridge for doctorates. He was proof against Brahms’ sarcasm and got on well with Dvorak, Verdi and Boito, who actually turned up; coped with Tchaikovsky; knew how to handle Saint-Saens, Bruch or Grieg. He wrote voluminously; symphonic works, chamber-music, songs, large-scale choral pieces. His Irish Symphony (at least once conducted by Mahler) and six Irish Rhapsodies were influenced by the example of Dvorak, rather than Liszt. Much that he composed for the concert-hall went unpublished and achieved only one or a few performances. In spite of his caustic self-confidence, the coming of Elgar embittered him. All the same, he could write something like this - the Andante con moto, ma piu tranquillo of his Clarinet Concerto. Not one of his more self-conscious ‘Irish’ pieces, it owes something to Brahms’ late clarinet chamber works, but Brahms’ melodic style is not far removed from that of Irish Art--music’s idea of Irish folk-music, anyway.
Track Nine: Clarinet Concerto, Slow Movement, Stanford (7.49 min)
This was Classical Break on Somer Valley FM, and I’m Rupert Kirkham. Today’s programme of Irish music was written and researched by Mike Burrows. We hope you enjoyed it and will join us again soon.
Here’s to Ireland, herself!
Track Ten: Irish Symphony, The Fair Day, Harty (2.55 min)
Sadly, we were forced to omit Jigg - To Mr James Betagh and The Star of The County Down, owing to length. A second programme on Irish music has been recorded, including The Star of The County Down! The bulk of the line-up of this second programme is of Irish folk-music, Stanford's 1st Irish Rhapsody, and the finale of Moeran's Violin Concerto; all culminates in Sir Herbert Hamilton Harty's vividly heroic and beautiful tone-poem based on the poetry of the nationalist poet, Emily Lawless, With The Wild Geese.