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John Elwes & Yoshio Watanabe
Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies
ALM Records, ALCD-1090, 2007
Thomas Moore (1779-1852) wrote romantic nationalistic Irish poetry, in the English language. He set them to old airs, many of them lifted from Edward Bunting’s published collections of the ancient Irish harp music.
On this delightful CD, the acclaimed Irish-based tenor John Elwes has approached Moore’s work as 19th century art music. On this CD he sings from an early printed edition and is accompanied by a notable historical keyboardist, Yoshio Watanabe, who plays Sir John Stevenson's original piano arrangements on an original early 19th century fortepiano.
The CD includes well-known songs such as ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ and ‘The Harp that Once Through Tara’s Halls’. There are also two very fine piano solos, two nocturnes by Irish composer John Field (1782-1837).
The CD is released on a Japanese record label, and as far as I can tell it is not available in Europe or America except here at the Emporium. The booklet and commentary (by Irish scholar Barra Boydell) is bilingual in Japanese and English.
It is extremely interesting to hear this music presented in proper historical style - this is the musical scene that Edward Bunting was operating in when he published his collections of the ancient harp music of Ireland.
It is also wonderfully evocative of the music and society of the Regency and the time of Jane Austen - Egan's instruments were popular in England as well as in Ireland.
This recording is highly recommended to anyone interested in historical Irish harp music, or in the relationship between the old indigenous traditions and their modern echoes.
£1.80 (UK only - select for overseas postage)
£4.00 (Airmail within Europe)
£5.00 (Airmail outside Europe)
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© Simon Chadwick
First published June 2008.