On this day: 2 December 1918

On this day in 1918 the ‘vividly coloured little sketches’, ‘Chelsea Reach’ and ‘Ragamuffin’, were reviewed as Two London Pieces, the third yet to be written. It was a substantial and sympathetic piece of writing , not analytical, yet curiously understanding of Ireland’s music, or so it seems to me. Interestingly, the author related the music to the writings of Carlyle (he of course having connections with the composer’s family), seeing these pieces as reiterating Carlyle’s words, ‘See deep enough and you see musically; the heart of nature being everywhere music, if you can only reach it’. In the case of both pieces, the words used to describe them appear very well-chosen. ‘Chelsea Reach’ is a ‘subconscious process’, in which Ireland has ‘caught the sound, the colour, and the simple poetic sentiment’, while ‘Ragamuffin’ has a ‘simple dignity which goes straight to one’s heart’.

It should be said that the reviewer had heard Ireland’s own performances of the two works, and based his criticism on these: ‘I have heard several renderings, but only have I got my heartfelt impression from Mr.Ireland’s own interpretation, whilst in other hands some of the little pictures’ most enchanted tints are comparative strangers’. Today’s listeners are fortunate to be able to hear the composer playing ‘Ragamuffin’ on this collection of Ireland performing Ireland, which also contains the third of the London Pieces, ‘Soho forenoons’:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Plays-John-Ireland/dp/B003YUQU7K

  London Slums (b/w photo) Oliver amazed at the Dodger's mode of 'Going to Work', from 'The Adventures of Oliver Twist' by Charles Dickens (1812-70) 1838, published by Chapman & Hall, 1901 (colour litho)

Source: Monthly Musical Record, 48, 2 December 1918, pp. 268–9.

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