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IRELAND – The Songs

Songs for Baritone

Songs of a Wayfarer; When Lights go rolling round the sky; Hope the Hornblower; Sea Fever; Marigold; Five Poems by Thomas Hardy; Three Songs; We’ll to the Woods no more; Two Songs; Songs Sacred & Profane; Five XVth Century Songs; Blow out you Bugles; I have twelve Oxen; Spring Sorrow; The Bells of San Marie; The Journey; The merry month of May; Vagabond; When I am dead my dearest; Santa Chiara; Great Things; If we must part; Tutto e sciotto

Songs for Tenor

The Heart’s desire; The sacred flame; Remember; Hawthorne Time; The East Riding; Love is a sickness full of woes; The Land of Lost Content; Two Songs

Songs for Contralto

The three Ravens; Bed in Summer; Mother & Child; The Arthur Symons Songs; What art thou thinking of?; Three Thomas Hardy Songs

Alfreda Hodgson
– contralto
Benjamin Luxon – baritone
John Mitchinson – tenor
Alan Rowlands - piano

Lyrita –SRCD 2261 – Recorded 1972 to 1978 - 3 CDs – 183 mins

These three CDs contain “all those songs which it is thought the composer would have wished to preserve” (Geoffrey Bush, Musical Adviser to the John Ireland Trust).    Considerable care has obviously been taken to group them loosely by mood or subject matter, and within those groups in chronological order.   The result gives the listener an insight both into the very wide ranging poems that Ireland set to music, and his progression as a composer.

Benajmin Luxon is the singer on two of the three CDs and his rich baritone and superb artistry when it comes to song are demonstrated to the full.  Every word is fully discernible and suitably weighted and he colours his voice perfectly to suit the mood.  There’s a tang of Cornish accent to salt the seafaring songs, wistful longing for the love song’s, devout simplicity for the several dealing with prayer and an echo of WW1 horror for Blow out you Bugles.

John Mitchinson and Alfreda Hodgeson give equally pleasurable performances on the third CD and Alan Rowlands proves himself a sensitive pianist throughout.

This is one of those recording sets which can rightfully be called a “classic” which will give delight for many more years.   The booklet contains comprehensive notes and the full text of every song.

Serena Fenwick