Despite the tradition of passing folk songs from generation to the next, aurally, the Irish folk song had lost its importance somewhat in 19th century Ireland, but by the turn of the twentieth-century the revival of Ireland’s native music was coming to a head.
Belfast-born Herbert Hughes set about collecting and distributing Irish airs. From there he began arranging the melodies for voice and piano, but at a lecture in Dublin pointed out the relationship between the original song, as sung by ‘the peasant, giving voice to an ancient tradition’ and the same song as put into print with a piano accompaniment. This original disc brings together both the old and the new, transforming the traditional folk song into an ‘art-song.’ The 25 folk songs tell of stories both happy and sad and make this disc as much a literary landscape, as a musical one with words by Thomas Moore & James Joyce. Beautifully performed by Ailish Tynan & Iain Burnside.
"Iain Burnside’s latest venture into ’English’ songs shifts geographical perspective to the music of Belfast-born Herbert Hughes, generously served up here in the irresistible form of his Irish folk tunes. The word ’arrangement’ as Burnside suggests, doesn’t do justice to the inventive piano writing and pacing of so many of these pieces. For your money you’ll hear jaunty japes and catch the full force of sentiment in songs such as ’Oh, breathe not his name’. Soprano Ailish Tynan’s feeling for the musical idiom and, above all, the poetry of her countrymen, matched by Burnside’s delightfully poetic pianism, prove irresistible. Highly recommended." ****