John Ireland

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Piano Trio No.2 in e minor

Composed in 1917, Ireland called his Piano Trio No.2 a trio in one movement. And while it is that, it is also in four distinct sections which, if he had wished, could have easily served as separate movements. The music presents a grim landscape and Ireland himself left no doubt that he tried to convey the terrible wasteage of World War I which destroyed so many young men at the very springtime of their lives. The work opens quietly with a long Poco lento section. It is then followed by an Allegro giusto section which Ireland wrote was meant to convey "the boys going over the top of the trenches" where they would be mowed down by machine gun fire a few moments later.


John Ireland (1879-1962) was born in the English village of Bowdon near the city of Manchester. After studying at the Royal College of Music in London with Charles Villiers Stanford, he pursued a career as a composer and teacher eventually obtaining a position at the College. Among his students were Ernest Moeran and Benjamin Britten. Primarily a composer of songs, during the early part of his career, Ireland did write chamber music and won the first prize in the 1908 Cobbett Competition for chamber music with his First Violin Sonata.


Ireland succeeds brilliantly in conveying the terrible price young men paid by going to the charnel house called World War I. This is not a happy work and the music is grim and gloomy, but it must be remembered that it was meant to be.


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