Sextet for Clarinet, Horn, 2 Violins, Viola & Cello
John Ireland's Sextet for Clarinet, Horn and String Quartet dates from 1898 at which time he was studying composition at the Royal Academy with Charles Villiers Stanford. Stanford was a proponent of Brahms and held him up to his students as a model. Ireland, having heard a performance of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet, Op.115 with the famous clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld (the clarinetist for whom Brahms had composed his quintet), was inspired to write something in a similar vein. Hearing the charming first three movements—Allegro non troppo, Andante con moto and Intermezzo, allegretto con grazia—, one immediately recognizes the composer whom Ireland had chosen as his model for the music bears an uncanny resemblance to the Brahms Clarinet Quintet, but it is by no means a mere imitation. It is only in the finale, Moderato, that Ireland breaks faith, so to speak, with the German master and entirely speaks with his own voice, bringing forth the music of the English countryside.
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.
This is a lovely work which can be warmly recommended to professionals and amateurs alike. It certainly deserves to be heard in concert.
Parts & Score: $54.95