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John IRELAND (1879-1962)
Concertino Pastorale for string orchestra [19:40]
The Holy Boy (A Carol of the Nativity) for string orchestra [2:30]
A Downland Suite for string orchestra [8:50]
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)

Rosemary (No. 1 of two Entractes) [3:26]
Suite for string orchestra [20:52]
Sally in our Alley (No. 1 of Two Old English Songs) [3:29]
Cherry Ripe (No. 2 of Two Old English Songs) [3:11]
Lament for string orchestra [3:35]
Sir Roger de Coverley, Christmas Dance [4:25]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult
rec. 1970, 1979, 1977. ADD
LYRITA SRCD.242 [70.02]

It's amazing how good these forty year old analogue tapes sound. I am referring to the Ireland items. The Bridge pieces are also analogue but from analogue's Götterdämmerung years just before DMM and digital-based LPs began a brief ascendancy and before the arrival of the real silvery thing.

The Ireland is given a full-blooded performance with a gripping sound typical of Boult's EMI recordings of the Bliss Music for Strings and Howells Concerto for Strings for EMI Classics.

Concertino Pastorale is one of Ireland's most touching works and this version has never been surpassed for its sumptuous and elegiac tone. The string sound has no steel, only silver, and an oaken attack. This is Ireland full of vitality and perhaps influenced by the young Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra. It also has that resonance, vitality and liveliness that will remind you of the Lyrita recording of Boult's Moeran Sinfonietta.

The Holy Boy is a mite too pressed, as if Boult was determined to avoid any sentimentality in this most sentimental of works.

The two movements from the Downland Suite receive a luminously eloquent recording. The rocking Minuet with its redolence of Lavender Blue is superbly pointed and rhythmically sprung while the Elegy flows with lilting charm. Such a shame that Ireland did not transcribe the other two movements of the suite.

After the fine vintage sound of the Ireland tapes the Bridge items are just a shade warmer and slightly softened in focus. Rosemary is warmly Delian and rises to a moment of sumptuous ecstasy at 1:33 - most surprising in a work of only 3:26.

The four movement Suite suggests influences from Sibelius's Rakastava and Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings. The scudding Intermezzo is a little charmer and cleanses the palate for the Nocturne which looks forward to There is a willow and the slow movement of the Moeran symphony. This strand continues in the most harmonically complex of the pieces here – the touching Lament was written in memory of Catherine aged 9 drowned in the Lusitania sinking.

Sally in our Alley is given a dry-eyed Elizabethan curve contrasting with its companion the fly-away Cherry Ripe which has some of the wildness unleashed of Song of My Heart. Any remaining cobwebs are blasted away by the delightfully intriguing and skirling cross-currents of Sir Roger de Coverley.

The fine notes drawn from the original LPs are by Harold Rutland and John Bishop.

This closes the Ireland orchestral shelf in the Lyrita lumber room. Soon we will have 3CD boxed sets of the Chamber Music and the Songs and solo Piano Music. There's yet more Bridge to come including a coupling of Phantasm and Oration.

Rob Barnett

Also Available

SRCD.220 Boult conducts Parry
SRCD.222 Boult conducts Holst
SRCD.231 Boult conducts Bax
SRCD.241 Boult conducts Ireland

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