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EM Records has taken works by (mainly) little-known Irish composers and put together a programme that enchants, disarms and whets the appetite for more in equal measure. In some ways, this is a companion to Barry Douglas’s Celtic Reflections disc on Chandos. An Irish Idyll showcases the music of Dublin-born Archy Rosenthal (1874-1947) and also includes music by another Dubliner, Walter Beckett (1914-1996). Duncan Honeybourne’s playing is astonishingly affectionate, yet never saccharine, something that rescues pieces like Rosenthal’s Variations on a Nursery Rhyme from the salon. Stanford’s Ballade in G minor presents some of the most serious of intent music on the disc, distinctly Lisztian in breadth and gesture. Honeybourne plays it with suave confidence. Rosenthal’s Barcarolle, heard later in the recital, proves this composer, too, was capable of great poignancy.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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