Schubert: Four impromptus

Michael McHale

10.0015.00 including taxes

Franz Schubert's ever-popular Four Impromptus, Opus 90 presented in a totally new context, performed with rare sensitivity by Belfast-born pianist Michael McHale.

“…a nuanced masterpiece…” – The Sunday Business Post

“Spirited, well-shaped Schubert” – BBC Music Magazine




Franz Schubert’s Impromptus, Opus 90, were composed in 1827, the year before the composer’s death at the age of 31. This record juxtaposes these limpid, yet emotionally complex piano pieces with companion interludes by three Irish composers.

Simon O’Connor’s Self portrait lovingly traces back over the shapes of the first impromptu, whilst at the same time interpolating strokes that are more typical of his own style.

Was du mir warst (“what you were to me”) by Benedict Schlepper-Connolly takes its title from a letter that Schubert wrote in his final days. Rhapsodic and intimate, the music is constantly reflecting back on itself, yet always tumbling forward.

With dark colours, saturation and a sense of getting lost, Garrett Sholdice’s The dreams flow down, too refers to Schubert’s song Nacht und Träume (“night and dreams”), both in its title and in the quoted music of
its ending.

Michael McHale’s sensitive performances allow our perceptions of what is familiar and what is strange to shift. We become immersed in a new world: expansive, dark and organismal.

“…a nuanced masterpiece…” – The Sunday Business Post

“Spirited, well-shaped Schubert […] The interweaving works by three young contemporary Irish composers offer contrasting moods…” – BBC Music Magazine

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. He has performed at many important musical centres including Suntory Hall, Tokyo; Lincoln Center, New York; Symphony Hall, Boston; Konzerthaus, Berlin; Pesti Vigadó, Budapest, and the Ushuaia, Chopiniana and Tanglewood Festivals. Michael’s debut solo album The Irish Piano was selected as ‘CD of the Week’ by critic Norman Lebrecht, who described it as “a scintillating recital … fascinating from start to stop”, whilst Gramophone praised “the singing sensibility of McHale’s sensitive and polished pianism”.

Simon O’Connor is a Dublin-based composer whose musical life began in punk bands as a young teen. Musically self-taught, he worked primarily in theatre composition before forming seminal Dublin psych-rock band The Jimmy Cake. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied with composers Donnacha Dennehy and Kevin Volans, O’Connor has for many years worked primarily in a tonal, minimal palette, writing for chamber ensembles and solo musicians. His new song cycle, Left Behind – commissioned by vocalist Michelle O’Rourke, will form the centrepiece of the Irish Republic’s International Women’s Day Celebrations in 2016.

Benedict Schlepper-Connolly is a composer based in Dublin, Ireland. People he has worked with in recent years include the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the sean nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, Crash Ensemble, Nieuw Ensemble, Modelo 62, Ensemble Avalon, Slagwerk den Haag, Resurgam, Robinson Panoramic Quartet, Ensemble Klang and the choreographer and dancer Liv O’Donoghue. Benedict is also a director of Ergodos, the Dublin-based music company that he founded with fellow composer Garrett Sholdice in 2006; Ergodos produces concerts and recordings, and runs its own ensemble, Ergodos Musicians. Current projects include The Weathered Stone, a large-scale work for Robinson Panoramic Quartet, pianist Saskia Lankhoorn and bass clarinettist Seán Mac Erlaine.

Garrett Sholdice is an Irish composer currently based in Dublin. His music has been described as possessing an “exquisite delicacy” (The Irish Times).  Notable recent performances include the premiere of a piano concerto for Michael McHale and the Irish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Gábor Tákacs-Nagy, and the premiere, in London, of a new madrigal for vocal ensemble EXAUDI. Sholdice is a director of Ergodos (, a Dublin-based production company, record label and music distributor, co-founded with Benedict Schlepper-Connolly in 2006. Upcoming performances include the premiere of a new work at Crash Ensemble’s Free State 9 event.

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