Author Topic: Irish Composers  (Read 8796 times)

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Offline aligreto

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #60 on: September 20, 2015, 03:02:01 AM »
In any case: it is on Spotify. Great tip! Overlooked it completely, thus far, but find him to be a composer of my lking too.  ;)

I would also recommend....


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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #61 on: September 20, 2015, 05:30:56 AM »
In any case: it is on Spotify. Great tip! Overlooked it completely, thus far, but find him to be a composer of my lking too.  ;)
Thank you Johan. I thought that the Braga Santos reference would hook you in  8).
I don't know how I missed him either. Apparently he studied with Vaughan Williams in London. I just did a search of Marco Polo CDs on Amazon and there it was. The CD can be picked up very cheaply on Amazon.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #62 on: September 20, 2015, 05:32:04 AM »
I would also recommend....



Thanks very much for alerting us to this.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #63 on: September 22, 2015, 12:19:02 AM »
I've been listening to the Boydell disc with increasing enjoyment. I like all the music featured. Parts of the Violin Concerto show the influence of Vaughan Williams although it is not derivative. The moving and eloquent tribute to Gandhi is a highlight and the other work I really enjoy is the 'Megalithic Ritual Dances for Large Orchestra' (great title!)
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Offline The new erato

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #64 on: September 22, 2015, 12:52:05 AM »
Shades of Zappa here. 'Invocation & Ritual Dance of The Young Pumpkin', quoting from Jupiter by Holst.

Offline aligreto

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #65 on: September 22, 2015, 08:02:37 AM »
I've been listening to the Boydell disc with increasing enjoyment. I like all the music featured. Parts of the Violin Concerto show the influence of Vaughan Williams although it is not derivative. The moving and eloquent tribute to Gandhi is a highlight and the other work I really enjoy is the 'Megalithic Ritual Dances for Large Orchestra' (great title!)

That is indeed a great disc. My favourite on it would be the tribute to Gandhi.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #66 on: September 22, 2015, 09:36:48 AM »
That is indeed a great disc. My favourite on it would be the tribute to Gandhi.
Mine too.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #67 on: December 07, 2016, 03:08:59 PM »
This is a cross post from the Listening Thread but I felt that a formal record of this disc should be here for future reference....





Menorah - This Viola Concerto is a contemplative rather than a bravura type concerto. The work was written following a visit to a memorial outside Jerusalem commemorating the children who died in the holocaust. The voice of the viola is an apt one I think to air such thoughts that one may have in such a situation. It is a dark toned work but not a despairing one. The final movement has particularly interesting orchestral colour and texture which includes the use of flute, harp and vibraphone.


Concertino - This is an interesting work written for large orchestra but in which a full orchestral tutti is rarely heard. This therefore leads to interesting orchestra colours and textures based on various different combinations of instruments. The musical content is varied and interesting.


Pearl and Unicorn - This is a violin concerto. Small forces are used which leads to great transparency and interesting orchestral colour and textures. The first movement is lyrical in nature and is followed by a rhythmically interesting scherzo. The slow movement is a brooding affair with wonderful combinations of instruments used. The final movement is another rhythmically interesting, dance like movement with more varied and interesting orchestral colour.


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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #68 on: December 08, 2016, 12:49:12 AM »
This is a cross post from the Listening Thread but I felt that a formal record of this disc should be here for future reference....





Menorah - This Viola Concerto is a contemplative rather than a bravura type concerto. The work was written following a visit to a memorial outside Jerusalem commemorating the children who died in the holocaust. The voice of the viola is an apt one I think to air such thoughts that one may have in such a situation. It is a dark toned work but not a despairing one. The final movement has particularly interesting orchestral colour and texture which includes the use of flute, harp and vibraphone.


Concertino - This is an interesting work written for large orchestra but in which a full orchestral tutti is rarely heard. This therefore leads to interesting orchestra colours and textures based on various different combinations of instruments. The musical content is varied and interesting.


Pearl and Unicorn - This is a violin concerto. Small forces are used which leads to great transparency and interesting orchestral colour and textures. The first movement is lyrical in nature and is followed by a rhythmically interesting scherzo. The slow movement is a brooding affair with wonderful combinations of instruments used. The final movement is another rhythmically interesting, dance like movement with more varied and interesting orchestral colour.
Sounds worth investigating. Thanks for alerting us to it. Kinsella is my favourite Irish composer - especially for symphonies 3 (wonderful score!), 4 and 6.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #69 on: December 08, 2016, 01:24:29 AM »
Sounds worth investigating. Thanks for alerting us to it. Kinsella is my favourite Irish composer - especially for symphonies 3 (wonderful score!), 4 and 6.

The Wilson CD above is definitely worth a listen. Yes, Kinsella also has some wonderful works for those who have not already explored him. I can also recommend Boydell above who has a body of very strong works which will also bear fruit for those who listen. There are of course others which I should also post here.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #70 on: January 09, 2017, 09:05:53 AM »
Michael William Balfe:






Balfe was born in Dublin in 1808 and died in Hertfordshire in England in 1870. During his lifetime he was an immensely popular composer with an international reputation and decoration. Balfe was by far the most prolific of all the composers of English operas active between the 1830s and the 1860s. He was battling against the then very fashionable taste for, and interest in, Italian opera. However, no other British composer was commissioned to write for two of the most prestigious opera houses in the world, Her Majesty’s in London (specialising in Italian opera) and the Opéra in Paris. Later in his career he collaborated with Piave, Verdi’s librettist, in writing Pittore e Duca (1854) for the Teatro Comunale in Trieste. Balfe was an acquaintance of Rossini and Bellini and his earliest operas had been produced in Italy during the late 1820s and early 1830s when he was preparing to embark on a career as a baritone.





The Bohemian Girl, first performed at Drury Lane Theatre on 27 November 1873, is among the most successful English operas of any century. The libretto is by Alfred Bunn and the work is in the style of the then popular opera and it contains many lyrical arias (and choruses) the most famous of which is undoubtedly “I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls”. Bunn derived the text for the opera from the French ballet by Saint–Georges and Mazillier’s La Gypsy (1839).

[All notes based on those supplied by George Biddlecombe in the accompanying booklet to the above CD].
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #71 on: February 18, 2017, 02:22:23 AM »
John Buckley:






John Buckley was born in Co. Limerick, Ireland in 1951. He studied flute and composition at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and subsequent composition studies were in Cardiff. He was also a pupil of John Cage. Following a number of years as a teacher he became a full time composer in 1982 and has since written a diverse range of work, from music for solo instruments to compositions for full orchestra.
Buckley’s music has been performed and broadcast in more than forty countries worldwide. His compositions have represented Ireland on five occasions at the International Rostrum of Composers and at three ISCM festivals.

I currently have two CDs in my collection uniquely dedicated to his work.






The Concerto for Organ and Orchestra was commissioned jointly by the National Concert Hall Dublin, RTE and the Irish Arts Council for the new Concert Hall organ built by Kenneth Jones and inaugurated in September 1991. The work, which was dedicated to Hugh McGinley, was first performed on 26th June 1992, with Peter Sweeney as organist and the NSOI conducted by Robert Houlihan.
In composing the work one of my principal concerns was to maintain a balance between the orchestra and the organ, which, in a sense, is like a second orchestra. Frequently, the development of the musical argument takes the form of a dialogue, with organ and orchestra in counterbalance to each other. Throughout the work elaborate organ solos have analogous passages in the orchestra; elsewhere organ and orchestra blend and reinforce each other’s material.

[Notes by John Buckley]


The first sketches for Symphony No. 1 date from 1983 but the main work on the piece was done during 1987 and the early part of 1988. The first performance was given in June 1988 in the National Concert Hall Dublin by the RTESO (now NSOI) conducted by Albert Rosen. The piece is in two movements, each of which falls into two large-scale sections, giving the impression of a four movement work.
While the Symphony is entirely concerned with musical materials and processes it draws much of its inspiration and character from the forces and patterns of natural phenomena and seasonal changes: Winter-Spring in the first movement and Summer-Autumn in the second. The Symphony is dedicated to James Wilson, who was my composition teacher from 1971 to 1976.


[Notes by John Buckley]






The Three Preludes were first performed in March 1996. Opening with a lyrical and expressive piece developing from a flourish to a tranquil, reflective conclusion, this is based on Yeats’ poem “He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”. The second Prelude is a perpetuum mobile, deriving from Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”. Finally comes a tribute to James Wilson for his seventieth birthday. Inspired by Emily Bronte, it is based on fragments from Wilson’s song cycle for soprano and chamber orchestra, “Emily Singing”.

And Wake the Purple Year began as a piece for solo harpsichord in 1985. The piano version was prepared in 1986. The theme is heard above a tremolo accompaniment and is inspired by Gray’s poem “Ode to Spring”.

Buckley’s daughter’s [Deirdre] eleventh birthday was the inspiration for the Three Lullabies for Deirdre. The music is straightforward and simple: a gentle arpeggio opening, chorale with spiky interjections and a nostalgic jazz-tinged melody.


The Silver Apples of the Moon is again inspired by Yeates.

Winter Music was completed in 1988. The piece is archlike in structure and derived almost entirely from the same basic material. It begins with a portrait of the American Wood Thrush, as portrayed by Messiaen in his ornithological soundscape “Oiseaux exotiques”. The irregular pace quickens, builds to a climax and subsides to a quieter middle section, after which the opening fanfares return before the work ends with a reflective conclusion.

Oileáin [Islands] is based on an Irish saga “The Voyage of Maelduin”, the tale of a hero who sails with seventeen companions to find his father’s killer. The voyage visits thirty-one islands, of which Buckley portrays four. First an island of horse-like beasts tearing the flesh from each other’s sides, giving rise to piano clusters and extremes in the instrument’s range. Second comes an island of black mourners inspiring a sombre cortege where one of the comrades weeps until unrecognisable and is abandoned. Third an island with white and black sheep where occasionally the shepherd mixes the two which change colour, represented by shifting musical gestures. Finally, the island where inhabitants cry “it is they”, music based on octaves for the development of the section.


[Notes by John Buckley]



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Offline aligreto

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #72 on: March 20, 2017, 10:21:46 AM »
Aloys Fleischmann:

I think that Aloys Fleischmann definitely deserves to be mentioned here.





Despite being born in Munich in Germany in 1910 and having German parents [both musicians] who moved to and made their living in Ireland, Fleischmann was essentially an Irishman and contributed greatly to the cultural life in Ireland throughout his lifetime. He was a fluent Irish language speaker. He was also an expert on Irish folk music and he spent forty years researching and compiling his book “Sources of Irish Traditional Music” which was published posthumously. His career as professor of music at Cork University and his pursuit of the development of music in a fledgling nation precluded much time for composition. However, what he did compose was far from insular music. Rather, he looked outward in terms of style, but still wanting to develop his own distinctive, Irish style. He died in Cork in 1992.

Unfortunately, not many of his works seem to have been recorded. These are two CDs that I do own:


Orchestral Works:





1.   The Four Masters Overture: This overture is a  wonderful, lyrical and descriptive work. The writing has clean lines and the orchestration is colourful and interesting.

2.   Sinfonia Votiva: Beautiful, intense, dark and almost despairing music born of the loss of a friend. The final movement is a boisterous affair reflecting the games that would have taken place in olden times in  celebration of the life of the deceased. Even this rowdy music has sinister and poignant elements to it. This is a wonderful work which deserves more attention.

3.    An Cóitín Dearg: A ballet suite with strong musical content which is interesting, entertaining and well orchestrated.

4.   Clare’s Dragoons: A very well written choral piece. It is evocative of militaristic deeds and unashamedly celebratory in tone with the requisite triumphant finale. I would say one to savour in a live performance.








Piano Quintet:

The first movement is filled with exciting, energetic music with lots of drive. The second, slow movement is very tuneful with wonderful harmonies. The third movement is an interesting, thoughtful and particularly conversational movement. The final movement looks back in tone and mood to the opening movement, both of which are then further developed while steering directly into the atonal world. This lends to an exciting sound world.


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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #73 on: March 20, 2017, 12:25:07 PM »
Two of the most fascinating figures in Irish classical music, for me, are Frederick May and Seán Ó Riada.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #74 on: March 20, 2017, 12:27:49 PM »
I should get some Gerald Barry since he seems like someone that has been doing something quite different in Irish music.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #75 on: March 21, 2017, 09:05:07 AM »
I should get some Gerald Barry since he seems like someone that has been doing something quite different in Irish music.

Gerald Barry definitely definitely does his own thing. However, he is a very polarizing composer as a result which, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing.
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #76 on: May 11, 2017, 10:21:25 AM »
This recent purchase is the first and only exposure to the music of Ciarán Farrell that I have had. I cannot compliment or recommend the CD highly enough....





I have been really very impressed with what I have heard on this disc. I have collected my thoughts from various posts on the Listening Thread and replicated and consolidated them here for convenience

Perfect State: A beautiful and wonderfully lyrical work that is emotionally engaging. The rhythmic diversity within the work is very appealing. The contrast between the first and second movements is stark, dramatic and wonderful and makes for interesting and engaging listening.

The Shannon Suite: This is a wonderful atmospheric and engaging work. The scoring and instrumentation, guitar and soprano saxophone, is interesting and helps in this regard. The playing is strong and vibrant.

Around and About: This is an innovative work scored for flute and vibraphone. I really like the sound world created by the timbres of this combination of instruments. The music is lyrical, interesting, exciting and well played.

The Pilgrim’s Return: This is a wonderful work. It is in a distinctively Irish idiom but given very modern and free treatment. It is scored for string quartet and soprano saxophone. I like the combination of instruments and the harmonic content of the work.

Hopkins on Skellig Michael: This is a work for orchestra and speaker, [a form that I like] in this case narrating a poem about a specific place. The speaker has a deep toned, well rounded speaking voice. The voice has a very rural Irish accent which is fitting for this particular work. The musical accompaniment varies from large sounding, lush and very atmospheric and exciting to simple and quirky. There is also great tension and excitement in the music. The text is wonderful and also very evocative of the sparse, barren landscape that it is describing. There is a great synthesis between the content of the text and the musical accompaniment and therefore the work, for me, is thrilling and a great success and, on first listen, I did not want it to end.

There is some very fine music and performances on this CD which comes highly recommended.

I am indebted to our colleague Mirror Image for this link to Ciarán Farrell’s web page....

http://www.ciaranfarrell.com/
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Offline aligreto

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #77 on: May 18, 2017, 12:23:34 PM »
Dancing in Daylight:





This is a collection of four contemporary Piano Trios written by Irish composers.
I have collated my individual comments from the Listening Thread and reproduced them here for convenience:

John Buckley: Piano Trio - The musical language and sound world created in this work are wonderful, exhilarating and exciting. Given somewhat limited sonorities and textures Buckley creates a wonderful and exciting work filled with energy and drive. There is a very engaging and engrossing element of mystery in the final movement. It is a very fine recording with great presence.

Fergus Johnston: Piano Trio - Lyrical but somewhat stark in its musical language and scoring the first movement is continually asking musical questions and interestingly, not providing many answers. The free, jazz-like second movement which includes a tango based theme is an interesting interlude. The final movement is a lament and the somewhat harsh harmonies/dissonances lend a great sense of poignancy and pathos.

Rhona Clarke: Piano Trio No. 2 - This is a two movement work the first movement of which is filled with both poignancy and foreboding. This is quite an interesting emotional mix. The second movement is filled with anxiety and apprehension. Far from being a disquieting work this turns out to be an interesting and exciting, if somewhat introspective one.

Seóirse Bodley: Piano Trio “Dancing in Daylight” - This is a work with a big pallette. Although scored for a piano trio this is a big sound. Dynamics are obviously at play but the music also has a big voice and it is very well delivered in this performance and recording. The musical message is all positive and upbeat but is not overtly assertive. The final movement makes heavy use of various traditional Irish music motifs.


There is some very fine music and performances on this CD which comes highly recommended.



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Offline aligreto

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Re: Irish Composers
« Reply #78 on: May 20, 2017, 04:56:01 AM »
Roger Doyle:





There are three works on this CD....

Cool Steel Army: This is a work for piano, electronics and percussion which, for me, is only mildly interesting but others who are interested in a Rock connection may find it appealing.

Paavo’s Engagement: This is work for solo piano. Fundamentally I like this work, its musical content and ideas. However, it is too repetitious and ultimately too long for me.

Adolf Gébler, Clarinettist: This work is the gem on this CD and is absolutely worth the price of the CD on its own. The work is scored for symphony orchestra, piano, singer and CD played playing back the acted scenes. The whole concept and execution of this presentation is absolutely wonderful. The idea is “a soundtrack for an imaginary film with pre-recorded dialogue and sound effects coming through loudspeakers, with dimmed lighting as in the movies, together with live musicians lit only by their music stands. In this way listeners are given the impression they are present at the screening of a film, but one they cannot see, only hear” [from the CD liner notes]. The story is wonderful as is the music and it must be an amazing experience to witness live.


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