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Miniatures and Modulations

Inspired by the Melodies Collected and Arranged in the Ancient Music of Ireland by Edward Bunting (1773–1843)

  • Michael McHale, piano

The Belfast Harp Festival of 1792 was an event of great significance in the history of Irish music. Edward Bunting, then nineteen, was engaged to annotate all the music he heard, and his three volumes of The Ancient Music of Ireland provide a treasure trove of over 300 bardic tunes and their attributions. Philip Hammond has taken a selection of these tunes and approached them with complete freedom of style. Bunting’s arrangement is the ‘Miniature’ and Hammond’s is the ‘Modulation’.


Miniatures and Modulations () (00:03:00 )
Charles MacHugh - The Wild Boy * (00:04:29)
Kiss Me Lady * (00:02:16)
The Little and Great Mountain * (00:03:48)
Carolan: Rose Dillon (Jigg) * (00:02:30)
Old Truagh * (00:03:48)
Molly My Treasure * (00:04:08)
John O'Reilly The Active (00:03:09)
Have You Seen My Valentine? * (00:04:29)
The Merchant's Daughter * (00:02:40)
Kitty Tyrell * (00:03:27)
The Blackbird * (00:05:31)
Carolan: Young Terence McDonough * (00:04:21)
Carolan: Planxty McGuire * (00:02:10)
The Parting of Friends * (00:06:35)
An Irish Lullaby * (00:03:52)
Open The Door Softly * (00:02:25)
Carolan: The Lamentation of Owen O'Neil * (00:04:16)
The Ugly Tailor * (00:01:45)
Granu Weal * (00:05:16)
The Fair Woman * (00:02:37)
The Beardless Boy (00:03:25)
* World Première Recording
Total Time: 01:16:57

The Artist(s)

Belfast-born Michael McHale is one of Ireland’s leading pianists. Since completing his studies at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music, he has developed a busy international career as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. His début solo album The Irish Piano was selected as CD of the Week by critic Norman Lebrecht. In addition to winning the 2009 Terence Judd/Hallé Award, Michael McHale was awarded the Brennan and Field Prizes at the 2006 AXA Dublin International Piano Competition and the 2005 Camerata Ireland/Accenture Award.

The Composer(s)

As a composer, Philip Hammond has been regularly commissioned by individuals and groups in Ireland and in Britain such as the Ulster Orchestra, the contemporary ensemble Lontano, the Brodsky String Quartet, James Galway, Sarah Walker, Suzanne Murphy, Tasmin Little, Barry Douglas, Nikolai Demidenko and Ann Murray. He is often commissioned as an “occasional” composer and his Waterfront Fanfares (1997) were written to open the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. His …the starry dynamo in the machinery of night… was specially commissioned by Queen’s University to celebrate the visit of President Clinton in May 2001. The National Youth Orchestra of Ireland commissioned and performed his Carnavalesque for Double Orchestra and Percussion in July 2003. In 2005, his …while the sun shines was commissioned by BBC Radio Three to celebrate the music of the great Irish conductor and composer Sir Hamilton Harty (in 1979, Philip Hammond contributed two biographical chapters to a book on Sir Hamilton Harty (Blackstaff, 1979). Philip Hammond’s Requiem for the Lost Souls of the Titanic for choruses and brass was premiered in April 2012 on the exact hundredth anniversary of the ship’s demise.


“It would be hard to over-praise the power, subtlety, wit and finesse of Michael McHale’s playing—as it is clearly that of one of the finest pianists of his generation—and it contributes immeasurably to one of the most individual, entertaining, endlessly fascinating piano albums of the year.” – Fanfare

“I have listened repeatedly to this most enjoyable release for pleasure’s sake for this is a really quite attractive disc. ” – MusicWeb International

“What a great and in the best sense of the word entertaining and diverting CD!” – Piano News

BBC Music Magazine

“McHale plays with great verve and alacrity.” – BBC Music Magazine

“In McHale, Hammond has, quite simply, been blessed to find his own ideal interpreter.” – Culture Northern Ireland