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Track(s) taken from CDA67261/2

Mother and child

author of text

Lisa Milne (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: September 1998
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Arthur Johnson
Engineered by Mike Clements & Mike Hatch
Release date: June 1999
Total duration: 9 minutes 52 seconds


'Perhaps these discs will at last bring the best of his songs back into live recital' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Three excellent young British singers share the treasures recorded here under the sage aegis of Graham Johnson. Lisa Milne's bright, keen soprano is lovely, John Mark Ainsley is a model of style and verbal clarity and young Christopher Maltman continues to show the promise that won him the Cardiff Lieder Prize in 1997' (The Sunday Times)

'A welcome, long overdue event. Excellent introduction to unduly neglected repertoire' (Classic CD)

'Ireland was a songsmith to rival the finest this country has produced, and Hyperion's generous anthology will hopefully encourage others to explore this rewarding and rapt repertoire' (Hi-Fi News)
Christina Rossetti's often sombre, introspective poetry attracted Ireland in much the same way as did that of Thomas Hardy, notwithstanding the fact that Rossetti was a card-carrying High Anglican and Hardy a convinced atheist. The 1918 Mother and Child song-cycle contains some of Ireland's most spare, straightforward musical textures and ideas, matching the simplicity of the texts. The songs are settings of eight 'Nursery Rhymes' from Rossetti's anthology Sing-Song—naive and over-emotional to modem sensibilities and reflecting the preoccupation with domestic death which haunted both the Victorian mind and Rossetti's poetry. What drew Ireland to such mawkish material is an interesting psychological question, perhaps reflecting the sentimentalism and mood of loss that infected so many minds as The Great War drew to a close. Having said that, he was once quoted as having referred to himself as 'an emotional old sod'.

There are no fewer than three lullabies (Newborn, The Only Child and Baby). Hope describes the child's frustration with the fact that neither snow nor sand are any good for growing things. Skylark and Nightingale displays the joy of discovering birdsong by day and by night. In The Blind Boy a child blind from birth looks forward to seeing 'beautiful flowers and birds in bow'rs' in the afterlife. Despite Rossetti's religious convictions, Death-parting carries the flavour of Victorian doubt in the pessimistic, gloom-laden line on the death of a child, 'Never to meet again, my dear / Never to part again'. And smell the flowers at the funeral in The Garland. The cycle is dedicated to one of Ireland's sisters.

from notes by Andrew Green © 1999

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