John F Larchet’s Complete Songs and Airs: Musical comfort food

Fri, Sep 4, 2020, 05:00


Complete Songs and Airs

John F Larchet

Champs Hill Records


The composer John F Larchet (1884-1967) was a power in the land in the decades after Irish independence. He was music director of the Abbey Theatre, advised on the creation of the Army School of Music, was the first president of the Dublin Grand Opera Society, and taught a new generation of composers and musicians through professorships at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and University College Dublin.

He had songs and arrangements recorded by John McCormack (with no less a figure than the great violinist Fritz Kreisler), Margaret Burke-Sheridan, Dermot Troy and Bernadette Greevy, and featured on one of the LPs of Irish music recorded by the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra under its Croatian principal conductor Milan Horvat in the 1950s. Musically, he was a conservative who clung to a musical past that composers such as Bartók, Berg, Stravinsky and Webern, born in the same decade, moved firmly away from.

Singers Raphaela Mangan and Gavan Ring, violinist Mia Cooper, cellist Verity Simmons and pianist Niall Kinsella respond in kind to the composer’s soft-edged, folk-based style in songs and arrangements that are like a kind of musical comfort food for nostalgic reconnection with a rose-tinted past.