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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. Walthamstow Town Hall, February 1971 (Concerto) and Decca Studios, London January 1969 (Sonata, Prelude). originally issued on LP as SRCS42 (cello and piano); SRCS43 (Cello Concerto). ADD
LYRITA SRCD.299 [60:25]

Experience Classicsonline

 


The virtues of Moeran’s stunning Symphony in G minor and his sprightly Sinfonietta are well known to collectors, thanks in no small measure to recordings by Boult on Lyrita. More recently there have been excellent versions by Vernon Handley and David Lloyd-Jones, although these works remain rarities in the concert hall. Despite a fine Chandos recording by Raphael Wallfisch and the Bournemouth Sinfonietta under Norman del Mar, Moeran’s Cello Concerto has remained one of his least known pieces. A pity, for it contains some of his most memorable invention.

The Concerto’s opening Moderato is launched with brooding figures - not unlike the beginning of Bax’s Fifth Symphony - suggesting a darkness that is rare in Moeran. For all the music’s intensity, Moeran is careful never to allow his soloist to be swamped by the orchestral forces; he was aware that Peers Coetmore was essentially a chamber music player and did not possess the big tone of a true concert-hall cellist. The central section is more stormy, and Boult and the LPO grasp the nettle with a dynamic projection of the music to contrast with the more restrained opening. In the lyrical Adagio the composer spins one of his most memorable melodies, while the final Allegretto takes as its inspiration the rhythms of Moeran’s favourite Irish jigs.

Boult’s 1969 Lyrita LP of the Concerto, coupled with the Overture for a Masque and the Second Rhapsody, might have propelled the work to greater fame had the performance not been hamstrung by the soloist’s distinctly fallible traversal of the solo part. It was a touching idea to engage Coetmore to reprise her performance of these works for posterity – she was, after all, their dedicatee and first performer – but in reality the performances are technically imperfect, with frequent intonation problems and difficulties with passagework that any decent cello student would have taken in their stride. Moeran’s Cello Concerto is not a virtuoso work by any means, but a greater degree of assurance is needed to project the music with maximum effect. Here and there Coetmore does indeed phrase the music with memorable affection (notably in the slow movement) but overall one is left feeling frustrated. Paul Conway’s booklet note tells us that she had almost given up performing in public, and I’m afraid it shows. Boult and the LPO do their best do provide an inspiring framework for their wayward soloist.

The Cello Sonata and Prelude originally appeared coupled with several solo piano works played by Eric Parkin; in Peers Coetmore’s contributions we have the same mixture of occasional insight and affectionate phrasing set at naught by sub-standard playing. A pity; the Sonata is one of Moeran’s most finely-wrought works. Commentators are agreed on the work’s structural and thematic strengths; these are also displayed to better advantage by Raphael Wallfisch in his Chandos recording.

Ewan McCormick

 

See also Reviews by Rob Barnett and John France (who has a quite different view of this disc)

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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