Frank Corcoran

irish composer


A new British label (new at least to the US), Black Box Music, has come up with an interesting hook, as independents must if they’ve a hope of surviving, which its executive producer and recurrent recording engineer Chris Craker entitles 20th Century Irish Series.
The first to arrive at the editorial aerie is the work of Frank Corcoran, born 1944 in Tipperary his distance from which the soldier-singer regrets in the song of 1912. The CD, bbm1026, Mad Sweeney, takes its title from an elegantly crafted piece in a modernist, pointillist style for narrator and chamber ensemble setting Seamus Heaney’s translation from the Gaelic about a local king whose fortunes have taken an ill turn. Heaney, one of our period’s great poets, is well served: the music is splendid and the teckies of North German Radio positioned the able speaker — it’s himself, Frank Corcoran — in the acoustic midst of the instrumentalists.
Many such productions (I report with knowing chagrin) would have stifled Corcoran’s narration in a separate booth. I don’t make a frivolous point. Music is an art, but so is recording, albeit on a lesser plane. In two words, well done, which applies as well for the players of Das Neue Werk NDR Ensemble, Dieter Cichewiecz conducting. Mad Sweeney opens the program.
The closer, Sweeney’s Vision, is an electronically synthesized soundscape rich in rolling surf as an expression of the mad king’s surroundings. The first time I played Sweeney’s Vision, my wife declared, Do not get rid of that disc! Calm yourself, dearest, it stays. (We’re city folk. Storage is a problem.)
A work handsomely performed by Stuttgart Wind Quintet — “the piece is about wind” — though Corcoran’s note neglects to say so, takes its thematic kernels from Stravinsky’s Le Sacre, not as a mugging, rather an homage.

Posted under: Humble Hamburg Musings

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