WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2; Fantasy Sonata; Cello Sonata; The Holy Boy; Phantasie Trio; Piano Trio No. 2; Piano Trio No. 3
PERFORMER: Lydia Mordkovitch (violin), Karine Georgian (cello), Ian Brown (piano), Gervase de Peyer (clarinet), Gwenneth Pryor (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9377/8 DDD
When will the world of music reawaken to John Ireland? It’s incredible that, at present, this is the sole recording available of some of these glorious, expansive, Romantic works, brimming with memorable melodies. Ireland’s most profound and personal voice is found in his piano music, songs and chamber works, the latter mostly dreamily gentle and softly free-flowing. The violin sonatas and trios are especially notable, containing serene, meditative passages that stir the heart deeply; the First Sonata (1909) is tuneful and genial, the Second (1917) a more vigorous, darker protest against the War, but with a radiant, affirmative slow movement second subject.
The darker mood also informs the Second Trio, which evokes war in the trenches. Interestingly, the collection shows themes developing from work to work; for example, the wistfully Romantic theme of the First Violin Sonata’s final movement flowers fully in the meltingly beautiful Phantasy Trio. Ensemble playing by the three instrumentalists is very fine, the performances well-shaped, relaxed and spacious (Ireland hated his music hurried and wanted all his many notes to be heard). Until Lyrita reissues the warm and inspired readings of Neaman, Parkin and Lloyd Webber, this splendid Chandos set is indispensable.