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Five Songs to poems by Thomas Hardy

author of text

The Five Poems of Thomas Hardy, from 1926, are immediately more chromatic than the previous set, more intensely personal, somehow presaging the anguish and embarrassment that must have surrounded Ireland's brief excursion into marriage the following year. Many have seen this cycle as the summit of Ireland's achievement as a songwriter—dense, fibrous, deeply serious, passionate—and it is hard to argue against that, whatever one's personal favourites among the composer's songs.

Unlike the previous set of Hardy songs, this sequence is presented as a genuine cycle, on the 'theme' of love remaining always painfully, tantalisingly out of reach. The first song, Beckon to me to come, is an unspoken plea for a sign from the intended lover that feelings might possibly be reciprocated. In my sage moments muses on the idea of setting hope of that love aside, but builds to a extraordinarily passionate call of 'Come!'. It was what you bore with you, woman is the emotional hinge-point of the cycle—firstly a hushed, breathless expression of the lover's appeal, followed by the bitter realisation that she is unaware, unresponsive. The same idea is carried through into The tragedy of that moment, expressing the pain of being in the same room as the person who has not returned love. The mood of the song recalls some of Gerald Finzi's darker settings of Thomas Hardy. The cycle nonetheless ends with the love being transfigured, in Dear, think not that they will forget you. Excitement builds swiftly from a whisper to a shattering climactic moment on 'I will build up a temple'—a shrine to the woman who has rejected him. If love cannot be shared, then the temple will make men marvel at her charms. Ireland's setting ends in deep (literally, in keyboard terms) introspection after we hear that though men may indeed wonder, none will ever know who constructed the temple.

from notes by Andrew Green © 1999


Ireland: Songs


No 1: Beckon to me to come
Track 21 on CDA67261/2 CD1 [2'12] 2CDs
No 2: In my sage moments
Track 22 on CDA67261/2 CD1 [2'52] 2CDs
No 3: It was what you bore with you, woman
Track 23 on CDA67261/2 CD1 [1'17] 2CDs
No 4: The tragedy of that moment
Track 24 on CDA67261/2 CD1 [1'38] 2CDs
No 5: Dear, think not that they will forget you 'Her temple'
Track 25 on CDA67261/2 CD1 [2'27] 2CDs

Track-specific metadata for CDA67261/2 disc 1 track 22

In my sage moments
Recording date
1 September 1998
Recording venue
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Arthur Johnson
Recording engineer
Mike Clements & Mike Hatch
Hyperion usage
  1. Ireland: Songs (CDA67261/2)
    Disc 1 Track 22
    Release date: June 1999
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