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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Ernest John MOERAN (1894-1950)
Rhapsody No.2 (1924 rev. 1941) [13:19]
Violin Concerto (1941) [34:54]
Rhapsody No.3 in F sharp for piano and orchestra (1943) [19:14]
John Georgiadis (violin)
John McCabe (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult (Rhapsody 2)
London Symphony Orchestra/Vernon Handley (Violin Concerto)
New Philharmonia/Nicholas Braithwaite (Rhapsody 3)
rec. 1970, 1979, 1977. ADD
LYRITA SRCD.248 [67:21]


 


One of the signature LPs of the Lyrita Recorded Edition catalogue of the 1960s was SRCS-43 (Moeran Overture for a Masque; Rhapsody No. 2; Cello Concerto, Coetmore (cello) Boult/LPO). The cover for that landmark LP used an intensely atmospheric photograph showing the composer and his cellist wife Peers Coetmore leaning on a high triangulation point gazing out at a magnificent panoramic wilderness. It should help draw in many a music-lover. Even if the reality of their marriage was far from the impression created by this image the horizon-span established the immensity of nature as the dominant presence … the music likewise.

Moeran's life was not long and his worklist short. His sound-world is as distinctive as that of Martinů or Vaughan Williams. That he draws on the work of other composers in a generalised way must be admitted. Yet there is no special innate virtue in originality. And if he does sometimes sound like Butterworth or Sibelius or Ravel or Rachmaninov then this does not cloud his emotionally fluent and intrepidly romantic gift. It is characteristic of him that there are three orchestral rhapsodies. His natural inclination is towards the rhapsodic rather than the structured epic. His single Symphony is emotionally convincing - one of the finest of symphonies with a real sense of sweep and epic command. However there was to be no Second Symphony though I keep hoping that some Moeran scholar will attempt a realisation of the sketches, fragments and scraps he left behind. Even the two works the composer dubbed 'concerto' have more of the instinctive and rhapsodic about them than any overt sense of rigorous structure.

Chandos recorded all three Moeran rhapsodies and did so masterfully. However to experience these Lyrita treasures from the 1970s is to juxtapose the latter two rhapsodies with his rhapsodic Violin Concerto. The highly attractive First Rhapsody is an early work so you may prefer to hear the three fully mature pieces presented here in superbly recorded and performed versions. Georgiadis while not as grippingly recorded as the even more romanticised Mordkovich produced the first ever commercial recording. Lyrita's recording team were completely on song for the event with the sweetest but not necessarily the most succulent of string tone and with forward and fruity brass. As for the third rhapsody it is classic Moeran though by no means as profound as the Symphony or the Concerto. There is about it an agreeable 1940s blend of Rachmaninov and Irishry.

This disc is drawn from the following LPs: SRCS 43 (Rhapsody No. 2), SRCS 105 (Concerto) and SRCS-91 (Rhapsody No. 3); the latter coupled at that time with Bridge’s Phantasm. They were issued between 1967 and 1979.

A fine coupling including some classic Moeran in enduringly rewarding performances and recordings.

Rob Barnett

Lyrita Catalogue

 


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