John Field Piano Works

Author: 
Joan Chissell

John Field Piano Works

  • Air du bon roi Henri IV
  • Irish Dance, 'Go to the Devil'
  • Sehnsuchtswalzer
  • Fantaisie sur l'air de Martini
  • Rondeau écossois
  • Andante inédit
  • Variations in D minor on a Russian song, 'My dear
  • Variations in B flat on a Russian Air, 'Kamarinska
  • Marche triomphale
  • Nouvelle fantaisie
  • Nocturne
  • Polonaise en rondeau
  • Fantaisie sur un air russe, 'In the Garden'
  • (2) Album Leaves
  • Rondo

Lucky Field—and lucky us too—that he has dedicated fellow-Dubliners like John O'Conor and Miceal O'Rourke to uphold him on disc. With concertos, sonatas and of course the legendary nocturnes already in good supply, O'Rourke now offers a generous miscellany of long-forgotten miniatures mostly new to the catalogue.
Variation, either classically sectional or spun into the more romantically continuous quasi-fantasia, emerges as Field's favoured form. Not everything is as ear-catching in texture or tonal exploration at extremes of the fast-evolving keyboard as the (predictably) already recorded (by Richard Burnett) Russian song and Kamarinskaya sets. Certainly the longest of the Fantasias sur l'air de Martini lacks a sustained sense of direction—that is until its totally surprising outburst of temperament towards the end. But there are several posthumously published smaller gems, including a winsome Sehnsuchtswalzer, a reflective Andante inedit (thought to have been Field's last composition), two Album Leaves as dark-hued as they are brief, and last but not least a B flat Nocturne with repeated notes like a pre-echo of Chopin's D flat major Prelude. Nationally coloured Irish, Scottish and Polish dances, plus a Triumphal March and the spirited concluding A flat major Rondo, in their turn set your feet tapping.
Recording in the warmly resonant Maltings at Snape, O'Rourke could have risked a more scintillating, devil-may-care brilliance in the Rondo. But I liked his refusal to inflate so much else, his preference for tactfully yielding sentiment in Field's gracious lyricism and delicacy in its fanciful fioritura rather than a self-conscious search for hidden depths that are simply not there.'

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