Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Monday, July 27, 2020

Record Review John F Larchet: Complete Songs and Airs

I first came across the songs of John F Larchet at a recital presented by pianist Niall Kinsella at the John Field Room back in January 2018. ( I was impressed on first hearing with the set of a dozen or so elegant songs in a light-hearted nostalgic vein and was surprised at how little I knew of such appealing repertoire.  With many of the songs out of print, Kinsella did the spade work in gathering the complete set of songs by  a key figure in the Irish Literary revival at the beginning of the 20th century. The next step was to commit the songs to disc. John  F Larchet: Complete Songs and Airs has just been released on the Champs Hill Records. Kinsella is reunited with singers Gavan Ring in baritone mode and mezzo soprano, Raphaela Mangan who sing alternate numbers. The songs are paired with two sets of Irish airs beautifully played by Mia Cooper and Kinsella. (Fans of the TC Kelly arrangements for violin and piano will love these.)  Cooper adds a strand of spirited violin virtuosity also to Padraic the Fiddiler and Verity Simmons adds a melancholy cello obligado to Diarmuid's Lament. The songs spanning Larchet's lifetime vary substantially in style veering from light music evoking the era of  whimsical Edwardian Parlour songs and  the world of Ivor Novello to more  dramatic songs reminiscent of Stanford or Britten. Detailed notes by Andrew Stewart provide context and full lyrics by poets such as Padraic Gregory, Michael Macliammóir, WB Yeats, Emily Lawless and Elizabeth Shane. This is a welcome  to the discography of Irish composers, the culmination of impressive scholarship with  stylish performances highlighting  largely as yet unfamiliar repertoire.

My Favourite Tracks
Love's Question:      Hardress Wyles
A Stoirín Ban   :       Padraic Gregory
Cait Ni Duibhir        Violin and piano air
Wee Hughie              Elizabeth Shane
Padraic the Fiddiler   Padric Gregory