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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hamilton Harty - The Children of Lir; Ode to a Nightingale (Bryden Thomson)


Composer: Hamilton Harty
  1. The Children of Lir, poem for orchestra
  2. Ode to a Nightingale, for soprano and orchestra

Heather Harper, soprano (2)
Ulster Orchestra
Bryden Thomson, conductor

Date: 1981
Label: Chandos



PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****

The Children of Lir, changed into swans by their wicked step-mother, had to swim Ireland’s seas for 1,000 years. Harty’s tone poem is darkly powerful and Romantic. This, and his sublime setting of Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale, with its soaring vocal lines (Harper, magnificent) and rich orchestral sonorities are the gems of this and the two accompanying reissues (available as a set or separately) that include the violin and piano concertos and An Irish Symphony – all superb.

-- Ian LaceBBC Music Magazine


Chandos have always done the Ulster Orchestra proud, here with an excellent digital recording. I have enjoyed the orchestra's earlier records, though wondering if I had not slightly over-valued Harty's music. This time I am in no doubt whatever, and I had unreserved pleasure because of the quality of the music and its mastery. I most warmly commend this thrilling and exciting issue

-- Gramophone


More reviews:


Hamilton Harty (4 December 1879 – 19 February 1941) was an Irish composer, conductor, pianist and organist. In his career as a conductor, which began in 1904, Harty was particularly noted as an interpreter of the music of Berlioz. From 1920 to 1933 he was the chief conductor of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, which he returned to the high standards and critical acclaim. During his conducting career, Harty made some recordings with his orchestras. Though few of Harty's compositions continued to be regularly programmed in the concert hall, several of his works have been recorded for compact disc.


Bryden Thomson (16 July 1928 – 14 November 1991) was a Scottish conductor. He study conducting, first with Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt and then with Igor Markevitch. Thomson was remembered especially for his championship of British and Scandinavian composers. His recordings include influential surveys of the orchestral music of Hamilton Harty and Arnold Bax. Thomson held posts as principal conductor of several British orchestras, including the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra (1968–1973), the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra (1978–1982) and the Ulster Orchestra (1977–1985).


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