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Ernest John MOERAN (1894-1950)
Irish Love Song (1926) [3:29]
Theme and Variations (1926) [12:18]
On a May Morning (1921) [2:52]
Three Fancies (Windmills; Elegy; Burlesque) (1922) [6:50]
Summer Valley (1925) [5:20]
Three Piano Pieces (The Lake Island; Autumn Woods; At the Horse Fair) (1919) [10:00]
Gordon JACOB (1895-1984)

Piano Sonata (1957) [19:23]
Iris Loveridge (piano)
rec. The Music Room, July 1958, May 1959 (Moeran); 26 June 1958 (Jacob). Mono. ADD.
first issued on LP as RCS 3 (Moeran); RCS 2 (Jacob).
LYRITA REAM.1103 [60:12]

Experience Classicsonline



Like many another eager collector I’ve been waiting for Lyrita to get back to their monos. Not that more recent performers of this repertoire haven’t acquitted themselves with the highest distinction. And obviously recorded sound back in 1958 can’t compete with the latest entrants into the field – high level hiss is ever-present but is not otherwise greatly intrusive. No, what collectors of Alan Rowlands’s Ireland set and Iris Loveridge’s Moeran/Jacob have looked forward to is the opportunity for wider appreciation of these two under-sung and specialist performers. This was music with which they were strongly associated and the return of their classic performances is a matter for celebration.

Loveridge spins the Irish Love Song with rich chording and verdant appreciation. It’s an arrangement not an original composition – unusual for Moeran who tended to write tunes as though they had been long embedded in the soil. She plays with tremendous refinement and characterful generosity and this, chronologically the last work on the disc, is duly burnished by her touch. The Theme and Variations opens with a noble tune which bears the truth of the foregoing statement; it sounds like a real folk tune but is actually a Moeran original. The second variation is loquacious and free-wheeling which is contrasted immediately with the following vigorous march. The sixth variation is gracious and lyrical but alternates a balancing chordal section. The finale finds time for reflection amidst the flurry, laced with wit; Loveridge is dramatic at the end.

The rest of the programme attests to her surety in matters of style. On a May Morning is charmingly buffeted by light breezes. The following year Moeran wrote Three Fancies. The first, Windmills, is a rotary study which allows the wind to drop momentarily before resuming and ending in a dazzle of treble flecked colour. Elegy is unusually grim and powerful – a reminiscence of the War perhaps. Burlesque restores the equilibrium with varnished brilliance. Of all the pieces in the recital Summer Valley is my favourite. It’s a wonderfully openhearted and generous setting and played with especial understanding and perception by Loveridge. And she is no less fine in the Three Piano Pieces of 1919. The first is a water study, flecked with impressionist tints, Sisley-like in its evocative dapple. The final study is a vital and even bucolic At the Horse Fair.

The foregoing will give a good idea of just how well Loveridge absorbed Moeran’s idiom and was able to communicate it on disc. To add to the pleasures we have Gordon Jacob’s 1957 Sonata, written for Loveridge. It lasts just shy of twenty minutes and is cast in four movements. It opens reflectively, almost diffidently, but gradually tension builds through the establishment of bell chimes and a talkative milieu is advanced – before things wind down again into the sense of unease established at the opening. There’s a beefy scherzo – very well traversed by the dedicatee – and an expressive, rather impressionistic slow movement. The dynamic finale has moto perpetuo elements.

These sessions have stood the test of time. Augment them if you will with the Parkin and Una Hunt recordings – both of which are outstanding and should be on every Moeran collector’s shelf in any case. But do investigate these near fifty-year-old recordings. Moeran admired Loveridge’s performance of his Rhapsody No.3 and said so boldly. This is your chance to hear what an idiomatic player of his music she really was.

Jonathan Woolf





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