SEÓIRSE BODLEY (b.1933): A small white cloud drifts over Ireland, Symphony No. 1 for Chamber Orchestra, Symphony No. 2 "I have loved the lands of Ireland".
Catalogue Number: 12L013
Label: RTÉ Lyric fm
Description: The second symphony, from 1980, is a substantial 40-minute work in sumptuous, tonal, nationalistic vein, as one might surmise from the work's title. The seven movements portray aspects of Ireland; its landscape, mythology and national character. Allusions to Irish folk music and solemn chorales are punctuated with suggestions of birdsong; wildly energetic passages of orchestral bravado depict mythical heroes, especially Cuchulainn, who gets a whole movement to himself. These seven evocative tone-poems make up a symphonic canvas in an eclectic style recognisably related to northern-European nationalism in music of the early 20th century and before, recalling Moeran as readily as music of Scandinavia (Sibelius of course, but also Atterberg, Rangstrom and others). The tone-poem A small white cloud from a few years earlier is a similar exercise, though here embedding warmly tonal evocations of Irish music in a more modern setting which, having served to introduce the work, gives way to a lush, folk-influenced post-romantic idiom. The brief First sits a little oddly with the other two pieces; although conventionally laid out in four movements, it is dodecaphonic, and a model of clean, precise solo lines within a chamber orchestra context. The lively scherzo contains suggestions of Irish dance and some decidedly tonal resolutions and referents, though, demonstrating the work's affinity with the composer's later idiom. RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra; Robert Houlihan.