Some of the earliest reviews of Ireland’s music are the most perceptive, lucid and expressive. In 1918 one such piece of writing focused on The Forgotten Rite, written after an extended visit to Jersey. This listener commented on its ‘condensation’ of form, feeling and subject-matter, before moving on to the composer’s use of pentatonicism to give his music an appropriately ‘remote and exotic’ nuance.
The final paragraph of this passage identifies a number of Debussyan features of The Forgotten Rite: the ‘great delicacy of the orchestration, the soft, dreamy horn melodies, the little diminutions on the flute, the soft blur of the harp arpeggios, strewn like leafy garlands over the long-drawn string melodies’, all part of Ireland’s soundworld at this particular moment in time, and influenced by the French aspects of Jersey.
Source: ‘John Ireland’s Orchestral Piece The Forgotten Rite‘, Monthly Musical Record, 48, 2 April 1918, p. 74.