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Ernest John MOERAN (1894-1950)
Cello Concerto (1945) [30:30]
Cello Sonata in A minor (1948) [25:11]
Prelude for cello and piano (1944) [4:40]
Peers Coetmore (cello)
Eric Parkin (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult
rec. February 1969, Walthamstow Assembly Hall (concerto); January 1969, Decca Studio 3, London (sonata and prelude). ADD. originally issued on LP as SRCS42 (cello and piano); SRCS43 (Cello Concerto) with Rhapsody No. 2 and Overture for a Masque
LYRITA SRCD.299 [60.25]

Experience Classicsonline


Moeran married Peers Coetmore in 1945 - the year of the Cello Concerto. In the year of the Concerto's completion she premiered it over Radio Eire in Dublin and gave the first concert performance with the Liverpool Phil conducted by Sargent on 19 January 1946. The marriage suffered from Moeran's lack of commitment, her concert tours and his alcoholism. Moeran died in 1950 and Coetmore in Australia in 1977. Artistically their partnership bore three works and in replete symmetry they are all gathered on this disc.

Coetmore had been a fine cellist in her time but she made this recording long after she had ceased active concert life. Her tentativeness is evident. Her performance lacks tension and electricity but not romantic relaxation. Her intonation wanders off ‘true north’ although, through force of the music and Boult and the LPO's accomplishment, the whole thing coheres well enough. The usual Sibelian fingerprints are strongly in evidence. The start of the second movement recalls the bleak fens of the Symphony but there’s a caressing romantic tenderness that the Symphony never had – at least not like this. The Concerto was always more poetic than dramatic although it has some of Moeran's trademark dynamism in the finale. This Coetmore sturdily limns in but with more of a lurch than a lilt. Boult makes up for any deficiencies with an April day's zest and an explosive blood-rush for the final flourishes which obviously provide a tough challenge for the soloist.

The Sonata was Moeran's last completed work. Such a pity that the Second Symphony was left in shreds although I have not given up hope for a reconstruction/realisation in line with ‘Elgar 3’. The Sonata first movement has a magical Celtic-curved romance (I, 2:04). This is succeeded by a sombre and rather morose Adagio and a devilishly Baxian-angry final allegro. Coetmore, perhaps less intimidated by a solo piano partner - even one of the eminence of Parkin, rises to the challenge more successfully than she does for Boult. Interesting that Moeran's friend John Ireland (who also entered a disastrous marriage) is echoed in the finale at 1:40. Coetmore premiered the Sonata on 9 May 1947 with that Irish champion of Bax, Charles Lynch. The little Prelude was the first work Moeran wrote for Coetmore. She took it with her on a Middle East tour in 1944 where she premiered it at Alexandria. It is a romantic piece comparable with one of Fauré's cello morceaux. In its gestural range it includes a fragile crystalline rainbow of notes and there’s at least one phrase that echoes Vaughan Williams' contemporary prelude to The 49th Parallel.

The LP that carried the concerto bore the wonderfully atmospheric photograph of the couple standing high in hills leaning on one of those Ordnance Survey triangulation pillars. That photo was used for the Lyrita CD of the Violin Concerto and Rhapsody No. 3. Here instead we have the couple hand-in-hand walking down from what I suspect is that very same hill.

These recordings are very old friends and it is good to welcome them back.

The liner-notes are by Paul Conway who ensures that we take in all the essentials of the Moeran-Coetmore connection and the detail of the three works. He is unflinching about Coetmore's performance which is significant for historic resonance but uncompetitive when compared with Wallfisch on Chandos.

This makes a fitting complement to the other Moeran discs issued by Lyrita. It completes the reissue of their Moeran legacy with a musically poetic chapter even if it recalls what was finally a downbeat in Moeran's life. What endures is the music.

Rob Barnett


Also available:-
SRCD.247 Moeran Symphony; Overture for a Masque
SRCD.248 Moeran Violin Concerto
SRCD.266 Baines / Moeran Piano Music




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