Three Songs by Walter de la Mare; Looking Back etc
Paula Murrihy (mezzo-soprano), Robin Tritschler (tenor), Ben McAteer (baritone), Iain Burnside (piano)
Delphian DCD 34264 72:27 mins
‘Until recent years,’ the booklet says, ‘the name Ina Boyle has been somewhat of an enigma.’ With this recital of 33 songs by the pioneering Irish composer (1889-1967), following an orchestral album in 2018 and a 2019 biography, there’s much less excuse for not hearing her music, or not knowing the personal characteristics and domestic circumstances that caused her professional career to dwindle.
In intimate song form, Boyle’s music inclined to syllabic settings in the minor modes, exemplified here by the Five Sacred Folksongs of Sicily (1930). Delphian’s selection, though, is at its most winning when the subject is gentle fantasy and whimsy, whether the poet be Irish or English. Numerous songs, deceptively simple and brief in length, have a surprisingly wide emotional reach (try ‘A Mountain Woman Asks for Quiet’), while the setting of Kipling’s famous poem ‘Have You News of My Boy Jack?’ pointedly leaves quiet sorrow far behind in the final stanza. Among the consciously Irish fare, ‘Sleep Song’ is particularly effective.
Throughout, Robin Tritschler’s ardent, sometimes piercing tenor gets a good airing, while Paula Murrihy and Ben McAteer ensure tonal variety. And whether Boyle’s piano accompaniments are florid or interestingly bare-boned, Iain Burnside is always on hand with sensitive support.