'Ina Boyle' - CD Reviews

Two wonderful reviews of Ina Boyle's orchestral CD by the British Music Society and The Irish Catholic.

"The name of the Irish composer Ina Boyle will be unknown to many until now, but there is a renewed interest in her work, stimulated by the research of Ita Beausang and Séamus de Barra.  A new book on the composer by these writers has been published by Cork University, and will shortly be reviewed in a subsequent E-News.

This new CD provides a wide-ranging overview of her work, and she is well served by the performers here, since the playing is assured, sensitive, committed, and very well recorded.

This comment is particularly relevant as Boyle’s sound world is one of great beauty.  Her orchestral technique is solid and the music’s colours are subtle and imaginative.  Her Irishness is evident in a sort of post-Stanford sort of way (not that he was one of her teachers) with the contours and idioms of Irish folk music usually in the background.

She is one of those composers who continued to write quite lengthy and complex music without what one would have thought was the vital stimulation of live performances.  There were such. but only spasmodic and far between.  For instance, there was the disappointment of the BBC rehearsing her violin concerto in 1935 but not broadcasting it.

Her main teachers were C. H. Kitson and Percy Buck; Vaughan Williams gave her periodic help and advice, and approved of her music.

So – what of the music?  Well, it is definitely worth listening to, but no one going to claim she is a Bax or a Moeran.  The main issues are that her tonal palette is a little bland, and while at any given moment in the music sounds, well, lovely, she sometimes gives the impression of not quite knowing where she is going. 

For instance the Violin Concerto, an elegy for her mother is deeply felt, but the two slow first movements are too similar in mood.  Samuel Barber in his concerto took the same risk but his material is much stronger.

The best pieces on the disc are the Symphony and the Sea Poem.  The former has well contrasted movements and hangs together convincingly.  The surge of the ocean and the calls of the seabirds are most evocatively caught in the Sea Poem, thought the main idea needs more variety in its treatment, and tends to outstay its welcome".


British Music Society

July 2018

The CD comes on an English label – BBC/Dutton Epoch CDLX 7352 – and features the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Ronald Corp. They offer a selection of Boyle’s works written between 1919 and 1934, including her Violin Concerto and 1st Symphony, subtitled Glencree (In the Wicklow Hills). The Concerto has New Zealand-born Benjamin Baker as its refined and sensitive soloist. Both works, and indeed the rest of the items on the disc, receive persuasive and sympathetic performances and convey the pastoral sentiment as well as the dramatic intensity running through the music.
— Pat O'Kelly (The Irish Catholic)