Ina Boyle Overture for Orchestra; Violin Concerto; Symphony No. 1 (‘Glencree’); Wildgeese: Psalm*; A Sea Poem
Benjamin Baker (violin), *Nadège Rochat (cello); BBC Concert Orchestra/Ronald Corp
Epoch CDLX 7352 (hybrid CD/SACD) 83:53 mins
Ina Boyle was born in 1889 in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, where she lived and died. That in itself posed considerable barriers to her music, let alone the fact that Boyle was a woman, making her artistic obscurity a virtual certainty. This admirable album, full of premiere recordings, addresses that situation. Boyle’s music is very much worth hearing. The opening Overture has flecks of Vaughan Williams in it, but a verve and alacrity all its own. The Violin Concerto which follows, dedicated to the memory of Boyle’s mother, is more sober in hue. Soloist Benjamin Baker makes a particularly strong impression in the opening movement’s sweet rhapsodising. Strong pastoral influences infuse the outer movements of Symphony No. 1, subtitled ‘Glencree (In the Wicklow Hills)’. Its middle movement (‘Nightwinds in the Valley’), by contrast, has a bracing swirl and snap in its jig rhythms, and is vividly projected by conductor Ronald Corp and the orchestra.
The brief Wildgeese boasts an almost Sibelian sensitivity to nature’s mystery, while the brooding Psalm has a twilit Celtic ambience, characterfully summoned by the cello soloist Nadège Rochat. A Sea Poem is a set of variations that distantly recalls Elgar’s Enigma Variations, though its orchestral tints are darker. The recorded sound is excellent, especially on the SACD layer where you get an extra track (Colin Clout) as a bonus.