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Cat. No. CHAN 10116(2) X Price: £14 No. of discs: 2
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CHAN 10116 - Stanford: Six Irish Rhapsodies
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Available From: 14 November 2003
The First Rhapsody, based on the heroic Irish folk tales of the Fiana led by Finn and the loves of Cuchullin and his wife Emer, was a huge and instant success for Stanford and was performed so frequently that he was said to have begun to regret its composition!

The Second Rhapsody is an emotional evocation of the death of Osca, son of Ossian, Ossian’s demand for vengeance and Oscar’s burial. It never achieved the success of the first, perhaps because of its lamenting and haunting mood.

The Third Rhapsody, scored for cello and orchestra, falls into two sections: the extended first part is more than two thirds of the work’s total duration and features as its main theme ‘The Fairy Queen’, one of the two hundred or so airs ascribed to the Irish harper and composer Carolan (1670-1738).

Stanford’s weaved into the score of his favourite rhapsody, the Fourth, the traditional tunes ‘I will raise my sail black, mistfully in the morning’, a fisherman’s song, an Ulster marching tune and lastly, in contrast, ‘The Death of General Wolfe’.

The events of the First World War prompted Stanford to write a Fifth Irish Rhapsody, dedicated ‘to the Irish Guards (officers and men) and to the memory of their first Colonel-in-Chief, the late Lord Roberts. In this work, Stanford uses five Irish tunes, three taken from Moore’s Irish melodies.

Events in Ireland in Stanford’s last years quite literally broke him – the idea of an independent Ireland was an anathema to him – and the tormented elegiac quality of the sixth and final Irish Rhapsody, scored for cello and orchestra, surely reflects this.
Reviews

"...superb performances and recording."
The Penguin Guide - 1000 Greatest Classical Recordings 2011-12

With a distinguished array of soloists, committed playing from the Ulster Orchestra and richly sonorous sound, these discs will give much pleasure.
BBC Music Magazine

'The performances are impressive and Lewis Foreman's notes are conspicuously good. This set is real value for money.'
International Record Review

Splendidly played and recorded.
The Penguin Guide

 

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