One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati







Plain text for smartphones
and printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Support us financially by purchasing this disc from:

John IRELAND (1879-1962)
Piano Music - Volume 4
track listing below review
Mark Bebbington (piano)
rec. Symphony Hall, Birmingham, 3-4 January 2011
SOMM SOMMCD 0115 [74:54]

Experience Classicsonline

Over the last few years I’ve reviewed a number of John Ireland’s piano music in editions ranging from Alan Rowlands’ much admired old Lyrita set to individual volumes by John Lenehan on Naxos and Mark Bebbington on Somm, the last of whose volumes in the series is now the subject of this review. It marks the end of an important contribution to the cause of Ireland on disc.
From the outset I’ve noted that Bebbington has struck out on his own. He’s not one for received tradition in this body of work, either via the composer’s own small discography, whether studio or off-air, or indeed via pianists who studied with him, as Rowlands and Eric Parkin both did.
No, Bebbington takes some personalised views of the music and is thus quite easy to distinguish from other pianists who have ventured into this rather rarefied discography. The instances where Bebbington takes more decisive tempi in this fourth and final volume are few. He does so in one of the best-known pieces, The Towing Path, where the sense of motion is palpable. It’s most attractively and persuasively done. What I think he achieves, and what must be therefore his intention, is to bring out the measured sense of melancholy that infuses some of these works. He has perhaps taken his cue from the composer’s own repeated strictures about giving chordal passages time, and about not playing too fast, an injunction Ireland shares with Scott Joplin. Thus, to take one specific example, the Three Pastels, dedicated to Evlyn Howard-Jones, one of the best British pianists of his day and a fellow student of Ireland, evoke darker dissonances at Bebbington’s tempi. They are not as relatively carefree as, say, Rowlands. Similarly Spring Will Not Wait is surprisingly and, I think, uniquely slow in this performance, whereas both Rowlands and Lenehan took it much faster. If you know it well, it will sound rather deliberate at this tempo.
Both Rowlands and Parkin (in his Chandos recording: he left two cycles) differ strongly from Bebbington in matters of pulse when it comes to In Those Days. Once again, my assumption is that greater chordal weight and greater tempo elasticity is designed to wring out the nostalgic but expressive disquiet that runs through much of the writing. Whether you are convinced is another matter-I do prefer the tempo judgements of Rowlands and Parkin - but Bebbington’s position is both consistent and well argued musically.  

Meine seele erhebt der herren
was Ireland’s contribution to A Bach Book for Harriet Cohen assembled in 1931. This was recorded by Jonathan Plowright in its entirety for Hyperion, a disc I greatly admired when I reviewed it. Bebbington is, by contrast, rather too inert. There is a premiere recording in this disc and it’s the transcription Ireland made of his Epic March of 1942, which is much better known in its orchestral guise. It’s certainly a useful pendant to have, and is stirring, though the bigger version is inevitably more stirring still. On a Birthday Morning, the delicious Columbine and Equinox are all splendidly played, albeit the last mentioned could be a touch more rhythmically pointed.
The recording was again made at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, the acoustic of which has been perfectly judged. It sounds excellent. The booklet notes are attractively laid out, and evocatively pictured. Once again the programme has cleverly ranged between early, later and a couple of less well-known pieces. 

Bebbington proves an excellent, sometimes slightly idiosyncratic guide. I’d keep Rowlands and Parkin to hand if you can, but this newcomer has much to commend it.  

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by John France

Track Listing
The Towing Path (1918) [3:58]
Three Pastels: A Grecian Lad, The Boy Bishop, Puck’s Birthday (1941) [10:08]
Summer Evening (1919) [4:13]
Soliloquy (1922) [3:30]
Spring Will Not Wait (1926-7) [5:02]
In Those Days: Daydream, Meridian (1895) [9:36]
Merry Andrew (1918) [3:24]
Leaves from a Child’s Sketchbook: By the Mere, In the Meadow, The Hunt’s Up (1918) [3:57]
Meine Seele (1931) [2:02]
Epic March (1942) [9:02]
Pastoral (1896) [4:18]
Month’s Mind (1933) [5:38]
On a Birthday Morning (1922) [3:25]
Columbine (1949/51) [3:57]
Equinox (1922) [2:40]

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from:
















































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.