Ros Tapestry Suite

The Ros Tapestry Suite is the most ambitious project undertaken by the New Ross Piano Festival since its inception in 2006. It represents a variegated musical response to the Ros Tapestry, an impressive fifteen-panel work of embroidery tracing the history of the Norman invasion of Ireland. The double-album edition documents fifteen works for solo piano, each commissioned from a different Irish composer by the New Ross Piano Festival, and each involved with a distinct and personal engagement with one of the tapestry panels.

The fifteen pieces were premiered by an array of Irish and international pianists, five at a time, at the three piano festivals in September 2014, 2015 and 2016. For each performance, the tapestry in question was carried up to the church from the exhibition space and displayed beside the piano. The compositions are as rich and varied as the tapestry is colourful and engrossing: from Gerald Barry’s poised and minimal evocation of the moments before the Norman landing at Bannow Strand, to Linda Buckley’s introspective musical portrait of the Anglo-Norman nobleman William Marshal; to Sebastian Adams’ abstraction of the Siege of Wexford, and Deirdre Gribbin’s controlled and painterly response to a stormy Medieval sea crossing.

The roll call of pianists represented here is also impressive, including the festival’s Artistic Director Finghin Collins, young stars such as Dublin International Piano Competition winner Nathalia Milstein and up-and-coming Wexford native Jonathan Morris, and also established international names such as Nicholas Angelich, Piers Lane, Lise de la Salle and Cédric Tiberghien.

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Ros Tapestry Suite CD

“Overall, this is a fascinating collection, demonstrating an impressive breadth of contemporary composition for the piano.”


“Finghin Collins’s vividly nuanced account of John Kinsella’s The Celts, in an Island Fastness oscillates from drama to poetry and back again with surges of liquid immediacy.”


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Track listing

Disc 1

1 The Celts, in an Island Fastness
John Kinsella 5:30 Finghin Collins, piano

2 The Abduction of Dervorgilla
Elaine Agnew 4:57 Joseph Moog, piano

3 Arrogant Trespass: The Normans Landing at Bannow Strand (“Midday”)
Gerald Barry 7:50 Finghin Collins, piano

4 The Siege of Wexford (“2014.4”)
Sebastian Adams 4:31 Beatrice Berrut, piano

5 Battles in the Kingdom of Ossory
Gerry Murphy 6:20 Lise De La Salle, piano

Evening: The Lighthouse at Hook Head
Eric Sweeney 6:08 Olga Scheps, piano

7 William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry
Linda Buckley 5:23 Cédric Tiberghien, piano

8 The Marriage of William Marshal and Isabel de Clare (“Nesting Doll”)
Sam Perkin 7:53 Finghin Collins, piano

Disc 2

1 Ex Voto Tintern Abbey: William Marshal’s Stormy Crossing to Ireland (“Anfa Virga”)
Deirdre Gribbin 7:02 Daria Van Den Bercken, piano

2 Hunt in the Forest of Ros
Andrew Hamilton 5:20 Seán Morgan Rooney, piano

3 Gothic Glory: The Building of the Parish Church of St. Mary’s
Philip Martin 5:55 Finghin Collins, piano

4 The Thriving Port of Ros
Gráinne Mulvey 6:23 Nathalia Milstein, piano

5 The Walling of the Town of Ros: Sixteen Guilds Protect Their Town
Raymond Deane 6:02 Nicholas Angelich, piano

6 Exchange: The Irish and Normans Mingle at the Fair
Marian Ingoldsby 5:43 Jonathan Morris, piano

7 TheSheafofCorn: the Distaff Descent(“Sheaf”)
Garrett Sholdice 6:13 Piers Lane, piano


Classical Notes – Nick Boston

21 January 2019

The New Ross Piano Festival has been taking place in New Ross in the south east of Ireland since 2006. Over the course of three years from 2014-16, the festival commissioned and premiered fifteen new pieces by different Irish composers in response to the Ros Tapestry, a fifteen-panel tapestry begun in 1998 that traces the history of the Norman invasion of Ireland. They have now been put together on two discs, forming the Ros Tapestry Suite, performed by 12 different pianists, including the festival’s Artistic Director Finghin Collins, as well as Nicholas AngelichPiers Lane, Lise de la Salle and Cédric Tiberghien. Given the nature of the source material, a number of the pieces evoke battle scenes, although it is fascinating to hear the different compositional responses to this. So Sebastian Adams’ ‘The Siege of Wexford’ makes use of violent, throbbing chords, particularly exploiting the piano’s lowest registered, with a hammering conclusion.  Gerry Murphy’s ‘Battles in the Kingdom of Ossory’ is warlike too, but much more ominous, with its repeated ‘Jaws’-like bass. There’s a galloping hunt in Andrew Hamilton’s ‘Hunt in the Forest of Ros’, a wild and watery storm in Deirdre Gribbin’s ‘Ex Voto Tintern Abbey’, and a striking build from jazzy evening chords to a tolling warning in Eric Sweeney’s Evening: The Lighthouse at Hook Head’. Rhythmic energy and drive abound in John Kinsella’s ‘The Celts…’, whereas the rhythms in Elaine Agnew’s ‘The Abduction of Dervorgilla’ are unsettlingly jerky, even jumpy. All bar one of the tracks were recorded live, and the sound is consistently clear and full-bodied. The pianists deserve as much praise as the composers here – these are challenging pieces, and all concerned give highly convincing, often intense, and impressively virtuosic performances. Cédric Tiberghien and Piers Lane merit particular mention for their characterisation, and in Lanes’ case, precise articulation of the melodic fragments within rich textures of harmonic clusters. And Finghin Collins, who performs four of the pieces here, gets to demonstrate the greatest variety and command of technique. Overall, this is a fascinating collection, demonstrating an impressive breadth of contemporary composition for the piano.

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Classicalear – Michael Quinn

30 November 2018

Founded in 2006 by Finghin Collins, the New Ross Piano Festival in Ireland’s County Wexford has become an increasingly essential fixture for pianophiles. Inspired by a new 15-panel tapestry mirroring Bayeux’s famous embroidery, the 15 first recordings here were commissioned from Irish composers and feature an impressive array of Irish and international pianists. With something of interest in every piece, Collins’s vividly nuanced account of John Kinsella’s The Celts, in an Island Fastness oscillates from drama to poetry and back again with surges of liquid immediacy. Such contrasts are found throughout, Gerald Barry’s Arrogant Trespass poised, playful and pensive, the steely stillness of Linda Buckley’s William Marshall overtaken by dyspeptic agitation (described with subtle sureness by Cédric Tiberghien), Gráinne Mulvey’s multi-faceted The Thriving Port of Ros richly realised by Nathalia Milstein. Notable contributions from Raymond Deane, Sam Perkin and Garrett Sholdice – eloquently championed by Nicholas Angelich, Collins and Piers Lane – alongside much else in beautifully produced recordings point to considerable richness and variety in contemporary Irish piano writing.

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