Ireland: Songs

Ireland: Songs

by Roderick Williams


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Ireland: Songs

British composer John Ireland's songs have a variable quality that some might call inconsistency but actually reflects an engagement with text and a deep familiarity with English poetry from the mid-nineteenth through Ireland's own early twentieth century. Ireland's basic idiom is tonal and conservative, but dissimilar to that of his contemporary Vaughan Williams; it is impressionistic, with an intimate quality and a quietly spiritual connection to nature in many of them. But within that basic idiom, more so than in his better-known chamber music, Ireland is flexible. Such works as "Sea Fever" (track 5), to a familiar poem by John Masefield, and "If There Were Dreams to Sell" (track 27) are close to parlor song, while "I Have Twelve Oxen" (track 14) is a light Renaissance-flavored setting, and a couple of songs to texts by Symbolist poet Arthur Symons ("a very dirty-minded man," complained the Pall Mall Gazette), "Santa Chiara" (Palm Sunday) and "Tryst" (In Fountain Court) (tracks 8 and 9), have an irregular, psychologically oriented relationship between the voice and piano parts. The centerpieces of the album are groups of settings of poems by A.E. Housman and Thomas Hardy. Anyone who loves those particular English poets will not fail to appreciate Ireland's settings: his melodic gift and economy of language combine into perfect representations of their terse, deeply pessimistic verses. The Naxos habit of relegating texts to its website is less annoying here than usual, for baritone Roderick Williams articulates the texts to the point of total intelligibility. His readings capture the inwardness and the hints of suppressed emotion in Ireland's songs, which are not as well known as they ought to be. This is a recommended introduction.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/27/2008
Label: Naxos
UPC: 0747313046775
catalogNumber: 8570467
Rank: 164153


  1. Great things, for voice & piano
  2. Songs (3) to Poems by Thomas Hardy, for voice & piano
  3. Sea Fever, for voice & piano
  4. The bells of San Marie, for voice & piano
  5. The vagabond, for voice & piano
  6. Santa Chiara (Palm Sunday, Naples), for voice & piano
  7. Tryst, for voice & piano (from Two Songs, 1928)
  8. During Music, for voice & piano (from Two Songs, 1928)
  9. Marigold, impressions (3) for voice & piano
  10. I have twelve oxen, for voice & piano
  11. We'll to the woods no more, songs (3) for voice & piano
  12. Songs (5) to poems by Thomas Hardy, for voice & piano
  13. Work(s): The Cost
  14. When I am dead, my dearest, for voice & piano
  15. Songs Sacred and Profane, songs (6) for voice & piano: 4. The Salley Gardens
  16. Tutto è sciolto, for voice & piano
  17. If there were dreams to sell, for voice & piano

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