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Mother and child

composer
1918
author of text

 
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

Recordings

Ireland: Songs
CDA67261/22CDs Please, someone, buy me …

Details

No 1: Newborn
Track 11 on CDA67261/2 CD2 [1'22] 2CDs Please, someone, buy me …
No 2: The only child
Track 12 on CDA67261/2 CD2 [1'44] 2CDs Please, someone, buy me …
No 3: Hope
Track 13 on CDA67261/2 CD2 [0'57] 2CDs Please, someone, buy me …
No 4: Skylark and nightingale
Track 14 on CDA67261/2 CD2 [0'49] 2CDs Please, someone, buy me …
No 5: The blind boy
Track 15 on CDA67261/2 CD2 [1'17] 2CDs Please, someone, buy me …
No 6: Baby
Track 16 on CDA67261/2 CD2 [1'12] 2CDs Please, someone, buy me …
No 7: Death-parting
Track 17 on CDA67261/2 CD2 [1'15] 2CDs Please, someone, buy me …
No 8: The garland
Track 18 on CDA67261/2 CD2 [1'16] 2CDs Please, someone, buy me …

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