Harty: An Irish Symphony; With the Wild Geese; In Ireland

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COMPOSERS: Harty
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: An Irish Symphony; With the Wild Geese; In Ireland
PERFORMER: National SO of Ireland/Proinssías Ó Duinn
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554732
Hamilton Harty was one of Ireland’s most important musicians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although as a composer he was largely self-taught, extensive experience as a conductor first in London and then with the Hallé in Manchester informed his own music, for which his principal influence as an orchestrator was Berlioz. This new recording fully savours the brilliant colours that characterise the buoyant folksong style of the tone poem With the Wild Geese, Ó Duinn and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland vividly evoking the unmistakable mix of nationalistic fragrance and images of the Irish regiment whose fortunes this music’s programme portrays.

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Harty wrote the rhapsodic fantasy In Ireland for flute and piano in 1918, orchestrating it some 17 years later. The instrumental solos are in pleasing focus in this delightfully fresh account and, enlivened by perky rhythms and sensitive instrumental balance, Ó Duinn and his orchestra winningly capture its opposition of cheerfulness and wistfulness.

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Predictably, these musicians empathise completely with Harty’s An Irish Symphony. They aptly contrast the scherzo’s lively Irish humour with subtly nuanced expressiveness in the plaintive slow movement. Idiomatic music-making in the outer movements highlights the composer’s clever symphonic development of folk themes. Nicholas Rast