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BUCKLEY: Piano Music

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JohnBuckley (b.1951)


Silent formany years and with few composers that immediately spring to mind, Ireland nowhas a new generation of young composers beginning to make its mark in thesecond half of the twentieth century. Tempting as it may be to look to theNocturnes of John Field for the inspiration of all Irish piano music, one ofthe new and original voices, far from the days of those early Romantics, isthat of John Buckley.

Born inCounty Limerick, between hills, seas and the Shannon, far from the urban bustlethat shapes so much contemporary music, Buckley studied flute and compositionat the Royal Irish Academy of Music with Doris Keogh and James Wilson. Afterstudies in Ireland he became a pupil of the Welsh composer, Alun Hoddinott andthe American innovationist, John Cage. Initially a teacher, after 1982 hedevoted himself to full-time composition. He has produced a wide range of worksranging from solo piano pieces to full scale orchestral works, of which hisFirst Symphony and Organ Concerto have already appeared on Marco Polo (8.223876).

Success canbe judged by the commissions Buckley has been given, not only the OrganConcerto written for the National Concert Hall in Dublin, but also such diverseworks as Rivers of Paradise ( for the official opening of the University ofLimerick Concert Hall), the chamber opera The Words upon the Window Pane (forOpera Theatre Company) and the Maynooth Te Deum (written for the bicentenary ofthe Maynooth College and first performed in the National Concert Hall in 1995).

More recently, Buckley has written his Saxophone Concerto for Kenneth Edge andthe Irish Chamber Orchestra as well as the orchestral A Mirror into the Light,composed as recently as 1999 for Camerata Ireland.

This musicis not just a result of local commissions or personal inspiration, but has alsorepresented Ireland on five occasions at the International Rostrum of Composersand at three of the ISCM festivals. His score A Thin Hala af Blue representedRT?ë at the 1990 Prix Italia and he has won major awards including the VarmingPrize (1977), the Macaulay Fellowship (1978), Arts Council's Composers' Bursary(1982) and the Toonder Award (1991). In 1984 John Buckley was elected to theIrish Academy of creative arts, the Aosdana, and his music has been performedand broadcast in more than forty countries.

This secondCD for Marco Polo concentrates on music for solo piano, much inspired by poetssuch as Yeats, Shelley, Gray and Emily Bronto together with the countryside andlegends of native Ireland.

The ThreePreludes were first performed in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, in March1996. Opening with a lyrical and expressive piece developing from a flourish toa tranquil, reflective conclusion, this is based on Yeats' poem He Wishes forthe Cloths of Heaven. The second Prelude is a perpetuum mobile deriving fromwords to Shelley's Ode to the West Wind. Finally comes a tribute to JamesWilson for his seventieth birthday. Inspired by Emily Bronte, it is based on fragmentsfrom Wilson's song-cycle for soprano and chamber orchestra, Emily Singing.

And Wakethe Purple Year began as apiece for solo harpsichord, commissioned by NewparkMusic Centre and dedicated to Paula Best, who gave the first performance in1985. This piano version was prepared in 1986 for Gillian Smith. The theme isheard above a tremolo accompaniment and is inspired by Gray's poem Ode toSpring.

Buckley'sdaughter, Deirdre, and her eleventh birthday were inspiration for the ThreeLullabies for Deirdre. Appropriately for a young girl, the music is straightforwardand simple. a gentle arpeggio opening, chorale with spiky interjections and anostalgic jazz-tinged melody.

The SilverApples of the Moon is again inspired by Ireland's own W.B. Yeats and was commissionedby the 1994 GPA Dublin Piano Competition, its first performance being given byPaolo Cremonte.

In 1988Winter Music was completed to a commission by the pianist Anthony Byrne andfirst performed in London's Purcell Room. Representative of that season, thepiece is archlike in structure and derived almost entirely from the same basicmaterial. It begins with a portrait of the American Wood Thrush, as portrayedby Messiaen in his ornithological soundscape Oiseaux exotiques. The irregularpace quickens, builds to a climax and subsides to a quieter middle section, afterwhich the opening fanfares return before the work ends with a reflectiveconclusion.

The finalpiece on this CD was commissioned by Cardiff University and premi?¿red in 1979by Martin Jones. Oileain (Islands) is based on an Irish saga The Voyage ofMaelduin, the tale of a hero who sails with seventeen companions to find hisfather's killer. The voyage visits thirty-one islands, of which Buckley portraysfour.

First anisland of horse-like beasts tearing the flesh from each other's sides, givingrise to piano clusters and extremes in the instrument's range. Second comes an islandof black mourners inspiring a sombre cort?¿ge where one of the comrades weepsuntil unrecognizable and is abandoned. Third an island with white and black sheepwhere occasionally the shepherd mixes the two which change colour, representedby shifting musical gestures. Finally, the island where inhabitants cry"it is they", music based on octaves for the development of thesection.


Ed. DavidDoughty

Item number 8223784
Barcode 730099378420
Release date 01/08/2000
Category Piano
Label Marco Polo
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Byrne, Anthony
Byrne, Anthony
Composers Buckley, John
Buckley, John
Disc: 1
1 The Cloths of Heaven
2 Like Ghosts from an Enchanter Fleeing
3 Jim Singing
4 And Wake the Purple Year
5 Floating Gently
6 Dreamily
7 Gently Rocking
8 The Silver Apples of the Moon, The Golden Apples o
9 Winter Music
10 An Island of Beasts like Horses
11 An Island of Black Mourners
12 An Island of Black and White
13 An Island whose People Shout "It is They"
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