> MOERAN Symphony Lloyd_Jones [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Ernest John MOERAN (1894-1950)
Symphony in G minor (1937) [44.30]
Sinfonietta (1940) [23.03]
Bournemouth SO/David Lloyd-Jones
rec: 4-5 June 2001, Wessex Hall, Poole Arts Centre, Poole, Dorset, DDD
NAXOS 8.555837 [67.33]


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Letís start with the Symphony. Right from the very first up-drafted 'whump' of the horns this announces itself as a classic version. It is likely to satisfy those who were weaned on the Boult recording issued in 1975 on a Lyrita (or in the USA, HNH) LP. It is fleet of foot without being callous. This is a performance bright with life yet in the softer moments such as at 3.02 in Allegro nothing is lost. In fact Lloyd-Jones is at a career peak here with things really catching fire in a way not always evident in his other Naxos ventures. Just listen to the rushing attack of the baritonal strings at 4.39 in the first movement. The Lento displays gentle sensitivity in every sigh and languid gesture matched with a sure ear for, and control of, structure. If the harp glissandi are not projected with the lush relish of the Lyrita team the rest is sheerly touching. Similar delicate qualities apply to the pizzicato delights of the Vivace which perhaps rushes the diaphanous colloquy of horn and harp at 3.40. This was handled with even more mastery by Neville Dilkes in his 1970s EMI recording with the English Sinfonia. So we come to the chill Sibelian fastnesses of the finale. This is played with mordantly shivering attack and no little animus.

The succulent and spry folksy Sinfonietta is up against Del Mar (Chandos), Hickox (EMI), Beecham (Symposium) and Boult (Lyrita LP). The same qualities of bull's-eye, split-second attack and dreamy yearning caught part way between Vaughan Williams and Rachmaninov are in evidence as they were for the Symphony. I love the way the hee-hawing horns are caught in the Allegro con brio at 5.20. The pizzicato dance at 1.29 is caught just as well as for Boult's Lyrita LP recording made with the LPO in 1968. This is the best of the modern recordings and it really sounds like a large orchestra in full spate. You might have read about the work's neo-classical stance but this recording communicates a work with muscle, sinew and emotional reach; no pale Dumbarton or emaciated Pulcinella.

No one, Handley included, has yet matched the horn-emphasised Lyrita recording of the Symphony where every whoop lent an aura to each orchestral climax and hammer-blow. Naxos come close but that same bloom is not quite achieved.

Classically informative notes by Lewis Foreman.

I came to this disc with exalted expectations which have been met. This can stand compare and contrast with the Handley recording of Chandos. A superb bargain.

Rob Barnett


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