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Ernest John MOERAN (1894-1950)
Sinfonietta (1944) [23:16]
Symphony in G minor* (1937) [44:24]
Overture for a Masque (1944) [10:36]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult*
rec. 1968, 1970, 1975. ADD
LYRITA SRCD.247 [78:55]

Boult was a great champion of Moeran, a worthy successor to Leslie Heward, and one whose adaptability and malleability accommodated such divergent approaches to the Violin Concerto as those by Sammons and Campoli. He was also a champion of the Symphony and other orchestral music and this Lyrita catches him at his studio peak.
The conducting is passionately idiomatic and Boult understands perhaps more than anyone since Heward how the music should ebb and flow, how the tensile Sibelian drama unfolds with implacable force and weight. In the Sinfonietta the LPO is on supercharged form for its conductor, the trumpets in especially tenacious and animated form, with string phraseology that follows with incision and flexibility.
The Overture for a Masque was a 1944 Walter Legge commission and its breezy confidence is infectious. It’s a fanfare overture with a contrastive warm central panel.
The performance of the Symphony is the most recommendable available given the sonic limitations of the 78s set by Heward, though as ever I would be intrigued to hear the Royal Philharmonic Society premiere performance given by Heward which has apparently been preserved. Boult’s conducting is masterly. As early as 2:34 in the first movement the string tune unfolds with magnificent eloquence and we know we are in safe hands. The New Philharmonia winds are characterful and assertive. The transient beauty of the soaring melody at around 5:00 in the slow movement is testament to Boult’s understanding of the linear curve of Moeran’s writing – not for nothing was Boult so good and so underestimated and underused a Sibelian tone poet. Throughout this movement Boult urges playing of rapt dignity of expression. Come the Scherzo and things fizz urgently and the March rhythms of the finale are projected with energy and determination. In this context the lyric romance at 6:15 emerges with almost overwhelming beauty. This is in every way a memorable recording and its restoration here is thoroughly accomplished.
As with all the Lyrita reissues that I’ve seen the original notes are reprinted and in this case three writers do the honours – Michael Williamson, Geoffrey Crankshaw and Frank Howes. If I don’t always mention remastering matters in my Lyrita reviews it’s because the original recordings were so good that one tends to take Simon Gibson’s work for granted - and one shouldn’t. An indispensable disc for Moeran adherents.
Jonathan Woolf
see also review by Rob Barnett

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