Smock Alley

FHR 144

This delightful CD juxtaposes traditional Irish music with the music of Italian masters, some of whom worked in Ireland. At the heart of the programme are the six duos for two cellos by Tommaso Giordani, who spent long periods of his life in Dublin as musical director of the Theatre in Smock Alley, and in whose music can be heard the influence of the traditional music he would have heard around him. Born in Dublin, the organist Thomas Roseingrave provides a further link with Italian music, travelling to Venice and encountering the Scarlatti family and becoming obsessed with the music of Domenico Scarlatti, which he published with a charming musical introduction of his own composition – it is recorded here followed by two of Scarlatti’s sonatas. Francesco Geminiani lived in Dublin several times and indeed died there in 1762 – he is represented by a cello sonata op 5/1. It is fascinating to have confirmed the extent to which Dublin was an international musical crucible in the years following Handel’s Messiah performances there. Irlandiani play all this music with an elegant musicality, and wisely don’t overplay the ‘celtic’ aspects of the traditional music, even when they are joined by Irish flautist Eimear McGeown. The inclusion of a composition by the group’s lead cellist Carina Drury, lovely as it is, is maybe a bit of an indulgence with its completely different idiom – better maybe to have ended the CD with the spirited account of The Rakes of Westermeath? On the other hand, one of the highlights for me was Drury’s imaginative arrangement of a glee by Francis Ireland (Hutcheson) To Sleep  – Hutcheson was indeed a lad o’ pairts, a lecturer in chemistry at Trinity Dublin and a consultant physician as well as clearly a competent composer. I very much enjoyed this CD, the result of much revelatory research and a paragon of tasteful and expressive performance.

D. James Ross

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