The Dubliners released three albums on the Transatlantic label between 1964 and 1966, but it wasn't until they moved to Philip Solomon's new Major Minor label in 1967 that they had their first real success. A Drop of the Hard Stuff was released in the spring of 1967 followed by the rather unimaginatively titled More of the Hard Stuff later that year - both albums heavily promoted by Radio Caroline. Drinkin' & Courtin' was released in 1968, the year the original Radio Caroline went off the air, so had to rely more on the BBC for airplay.
The follow-up to A Drop of the Hard Stuff, released earlier the same year, is every bit as good, filled with great and spirited renditions of songs about rebellion, whiskey, and independence, plus a sea song or two. This was also the album on which the group introduced its de facto signature tune, "Whiskey in the Jar"." The high spirits and the ebullience of the performances almost mask the fact that these guys are virtuoso players and second-to-nobody as singers – as a result, the whole album rates multiple listens, even more so than its predecessor.
It is easy to understand why Chausson’s Concert is not as regular a feature of concert programmes as, say, Franck’s Violin Sonata. After all, a work for piano, violin and string quartet must surely have an instrumental imbalance. How can Chausson occupy all three violin parts for nearly forty minutes? In short, he does not. Nor does he try. Much of the Concert is essentially a sonata for violin and piano with an accompanying, though essential, string quartet. Chausson’s refusal to involve the quartet at every juncture merely to justify the players’ fees results in a signally well-balanced late Romantic work. When the quartet does feature on an equal footing, the effect is all the more telling. The fingerprints of Franck can be detected readily throughout the Concert, but in this and the Piano Quartet, Chausson’s individuality overcomes his teacher’s influence. Indeed, there are premonitions of Debussy, Ravel and even Shostakovich. Tangibly the product of live performances, these accounts traverse the gamut of emotions, bristling with energy, lyricism and conviction, and ensuring that this disc will never gather much dust.
Brought up in the Roman Catholic faith, which he abandoned in 1917 following the death of his father, Poulenc returned to the Church in 1936 after the death of his close friend and fellow composer Pierre-Octave Ferroud. Together these events caused a spiritual crisis in Poulenc’s life which led to a series of important compositions for chorus. The powerful Mass in G major, dedicated to the memory of his father, is notable for its daring use of tonality, though the playfulness of Poulenc’s ‘Les Six’ period is not absent. In the Sept Chansons, set to surrealist texts, and in the two sets of Motets - both very personal and penitential - Poulenc generates a huge range of emotion.
The Symphony receives a particularly warm and beautiful interpretation. DePreist has a sympathetic feeling for contrasts of textures; the tempi are excellently judged and atmospheres powerful, with a vigorous sense of energy, tension and release. The Sea Hawk, though, is allowed to wallow. Particular poignancy is added through the presence of Korngold’s granddaughter Kathrin as a violinist member of the orchestra.
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