Friday, February 11, 2011

Ina Boyle : The Magic Harp (1920)

Ina Boyle again!

I was delighted to attend the concert in the Hugh Lane Gallery at which her string quartet was performed for the first time since the 1930s. It bears the imprint of her studies with Vaughan Williams, but a distinct personality, introspective and lyrical, familiar from the violin concerto, still emerges.

Here's another performance I have managed to track down. A rather basic radio recording, I'm afraid, but this is the piece included in the Carnegie Collection of British Music – the only piece by a woman composer to be included. It's a fine piece of writing, and of orchestration. She has a real ear for colour, if I can say that…

The Ulster Orchestra is conducted by Prionnsías O'Duinn.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ramon Montes de Oca - El descendimiento según Rembrandt

Ramon Montes de Oca (1953-2006) was a Mexican composer of whom I know very little indeed, but the one piece I have come across is well worth a listen. El descendimiento según Rembrandt is a slow meditation for string orchestra on the Rembrandt painting of Jesus being taken down from the cross. He wrote it in 1991, and I believe that this recording comes from a concert given in 2007 by the Orquesta Sinfonica de la ciudad de Guanajuato (México) under the direction of Richard Marckson. I'm afraid it's only 128kbs, but as a unique recording, hey, it's better than nothing.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Amy Beach - Symphony in E minor, Op. 32, "Gaelic Symphony"

Amy Beach (1867-1944), the US composer, wrote a symphony on Irish melodies which she entitled a "Gaelic Symphony". So while I am in the mood for publicising women composers and Irish connexions, here is a recording, with the Ulster Orchestra (again!) conducted by the indefatigable JoAnn Faletta (that's her on the left), who has championed music written by women in her extensive conducting career. 

Ina Boyle – a rediscovered Irish composer

Ina Boyle (1889-1967) lived all her life in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow. She was a major Irish composer of the early 20th century, yet she has been almost completely forgotten. She is the only woman composer included in the Carnegie Collection of British Music.  She studied with Vaughan Williams, but she often had to struggle to get her music performed or published. She lived out her final years alone in the large house in Enniskerry, an increasingly eccentric figure, still determined to follow the path she had chosen as a composer.
Her recently-discovered violin concerto (1935) is redolent of Vaughan Williams, but a work of haunting power and poetry. It gets an utterly magical performance from the young violinist Catherine Leonard, with the Ulster Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Montgomery. Alas, as is often the case, it is the Ulster Orchestra that champions Irish classical music (their recordings of Stanford under the baton of Tod Hanley put his symphonies on the map in the 90s). 

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