Ireland: Piano Works, Vol. 2

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COMPOSERS: Ireland
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Piano Works, Vol. 2
PERFORMER: Eric Parkin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9140 DDD
As a composer of piano music, John Ireland occupies a position in the British tradition not unlike that of Fauré in the French, since he was particularly gifted in the creation of atmospheric miniatures. In the second volume of his complete survey for Chandos, Eric Parkin, who studied with the composer, plays a well-balanced selection taken from various stages of Ireland’s development.

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Parkin has long been associated with this music. He recorded the Piano Concerto with Boult 25 years ago, he has recorded the solo works before (for Lyrita), and his special feeling for Ireland is beyond question.

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Many of these pieces feature Ireland at his best, and even the student pair entitled In Those Days are poetic enough to merit their revival, especially as captured here in so natural and atmospheric a recording. Parkin’s performances seem ideal, whether in the pointed wit of the Ragamuffin, the tenderness of For Remembrance, or the agitation of Equinox, an evocation of summer storms. Two of the pieces are more substantial. The three-movement Sonatina (1927) is beautifully done, a real revelation with its Debussian slow movement, while the Ballade (1929) ranges through many moods, a veritable tone poem of extraordinarily diverse imageries.Terry Barfoot