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A rare outing for Sarnia by John Ireland, whose piano music is well worth investigating (his concerto is a real gem). Written on Guernsey, Sarnia was Ireland’s last major work for piano. It is beautifully evocative, most effectively so in the central ‘In a May Morning’. Th e final ‘Song of the Springtides’ displays openness and freshness. While Bebbington (Somm) is more expansive in all three movements, Hicks loses nothing in expressivity.

‘The Island Spell’ is a brief movement from Ireland’s 1912/13 suite Decorations. An almost Impressionist study in shadings, Hicks’ account is brilliantly evocative. He gives a joyous reading of Th e Seasons by Tchaikovsky, revelling in a sense of discovery and nostalgia.

The recording (Stoller Hall, Manchester) is excellent, capturing the richness of Hicks’ sound, but the accompanying booklet notes are disappointingly minimal.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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