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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


  This is the second resurrection from the mono shelf in Lyrita’s vault; the first being last month’s Alan Rowlands monos of Ireland’s piano music. Even within Lyrita’s own catalogue this represents a labour of exhaustive dedication as the company already offers 1970s stereo versions of the Ireland. As for the Moeran there is no overlap between this collection and Parkin’s SRCD.266. Even so, these performances radiate total absorption in the music and have a heat which can be felt despite the mono sound and tape hiss.

Moeran has always been a fixture in the Lyrita catalogue. This shows that his presence dated back to the label’s childhood. His Irish Love Song has a resonant folk-inflected majesty which also courses through many of the other Moeran solos here. The Allegro scherzando of the Theme and Variations is blazingly despatched; just the opposite of the pastel colouring and smocks we might expect elsewhere. Moeran brought a vitality to folk themes that is neither precious nor suffocatingly calculated. His piano writing is exciting and this is heard to fine advantage in Loveridge's hands. On a May Morning - now there's a title that 'belongs' to John Ireland - is a lissom inspiration yet Loveridge lavishes such wonderful attention on its rhythmic invention. Windmills from Three Fancies trills and spins, carefree in its humming and ringing pearly liberation. By contrast Elegy takes us to the dank world of Bernard van Dieren whose Chinese Symphony is long overdue for recording. Elegy is very different in its expressionist dramatics from the flanking Fancies. Speaking of which the closing Burlesque skips along with more than a hint of Bax’s Gopak which Loveridge also recorded. The arpeggiation and shaping of Summer Valley takes us to the piano accompaniments of Peter Warlock's songs. The Lake Island is a peaceable essay in lapping liquid contemplation and the graduated rhythmic life of Autumn Woods suggests another watery scene rather than any woodland clearing. In addition it has, for Moeran a typically noble rhetorical quality. The snappy and sometimes rowdy At the Horse Fair links with the threshing floors of Connemara and the dancing virtuosity of the central movement of the Violin Concerto.

Loveridge made something of a speciality of the Moeran Rhapsody No. 3 for piano and orchestra. Such a pity that no recording of her broadcasts seems to be accessible.

Gordon Jacob has already been touched on by Lyrita in a coupling of the two symphonies and another CD including the Horn Concerto. The Jacob Piano Sonata is dedicated to Loveridge. The language is caught between the folk foundation he shared with Moeran and the tart and dissonance-accommodating impressionism we hear in the piano music of Howard Ferguson. The Sonata's second movement suggests the capering of a witch's familiar with the tolling under-girding of the third movement making the bridge to the finale. The final Allegro con brio has dash by the litre - so much so that a certain pianola and Ornstein aspect is conveyed. A sturdy angular Baxian rhetoric clangs and chimes through the final ironclad pages.

There's no mistaking or avoiding analogue hiss in these recordings. They are after all half a century old. Simon Gibson has kept this noise even and distant. Compensation comes in the rounded naturalness of the piano which turns spicily stony at forte and above. It's a pleasing sound.

The notes are Lyrita originals by Peter J Pirie and Elizabeth Poston.

So far as Moeran is concerned SRCD266 offers a complementary programme. If you look beyond Lyrita then the complete piano music of Moeran can be heard from Parkin on Ismeron and from the excellent Una Hunt on ASV.

There's plenty more to come from those RCS LPs. Last month we had Alan Rowland's alternative mono cycle. Next month Lyrita deliver a 3 CD box of Loveridge's Bax. After that come CDs of Villa-Lobos, John White sonatas, Arthur Benjamin plays Benjamin, York Bowen plays Bowen and more.

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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