The Irish Piano
Michael McHale (piano) RTÉ lyric fm CD 139 ****
Don’t be taken in by the title. This is anything but a representative survey of Irish piano music. It is intended, as the small print says, to be “a delightful selection of piano miniatures inspired by Ireland’s rich musical heritage”, a brief which allows an American, and Englishman and an Australian (Samuel Barber, Arnold Bax and Percy Grainger) to account for more than a quarter of the pieces.
The rest are split evenly between composers north and south. Though there’s a yawning gap among the genuinely Irish between William Wallace (born 1812) and Bill Whelan (born 1950).
Pianist Michael McHale, the same age as the youngest of his chosen composers (Garrett Sholdice, born 1983), gives attractively-shaped performances of these mostly light, well-turned pieces, with the almost Satie-esque moments in Arnold Bax’s Nocturne providing the greatest surprise. See url.ie/g6qw