Ireland’s piano work, ‘The Towing Path’, refers to a particular spot in a particular year. In 1918 the composer was staying in Pangbourne in Berkshire, from where he wrote to St Luke’s chorister, Charlie Markes. The pictures below show the area that inspired the piece, which in many ways shares characteristic features with ‘Chelsea Reach’ – a different version of the Thames as it were. While for me this piece belongs utterly with Ireland’s other English nature pieces, in 1919 it was compared with the music of Franck, possibly arising from ‘an obsessing fondness for the mediant notes’ (Monthly Musical Record, 49, 1 October 1919, p. 225).
Duncan Honeybourne, a great advocate of English music, offers a very individual interpretation of this piece, capturing the fluidity of the music and the sense of movement.