One of the signature
LPs of the Lyrita Recorded Edition catalogue
of the 1960s was SRCS-43 (Moeran Overture
for a Masque; Rhapsody No. 2; Cello
Concerto, Coetmore (cello) Boult/LPO).
The cover for that landmark LP used
an intensely atmospheric photograph
showing the composer and his cellist
wife Peers Coetmore leaning on a high
triangulation point gazing out at a
magnificent panoramic wilderness. It
should help draw in many a music-lover.
Even if the reality of their marriage
was far from the impression created
by this image the horizon-span established
the immensity of nature as the dominant
presence … the music likewise.
life was not long and his worklist short.
His sound-world is as distinctive as
that of Martinů or Vaughan Williams.
That he draws on the work of other composers
in a generalised way must be admitted.
Yet there is no special innate
virtue in originality. And if he does
sometimes sound like Butterworth or
Sibelius or Ravel or Rachmaninov then
this does not cloud his emotionally
fluent and intrepidly romantic gift.
It is characteristic of him that there
are three orchestral rhapsodies. His
natural inclination is towards the rhapsodic
rather than the structured epic. His
single Symphony is emotionally convincing
- one of the finest of symphonies with
a real sense of sweep and epic command.
However there was to be no Second Symphony
though I keep hoping that some Moeran
scholar will attempt a realisation of
the sketches, fragments and scraps he
left behind. Even the two works the
composer dubbed 'concerto' have more
of the instinctive and rhapsodic about
them than any overt sense of rigorous
Chandos recorded all
three Moeran rhapsodies and did so masterfully.
However to experience these Lyrita treasures
from the 1970s is to juxtapose the latter
two rhapsodies with his rhapsodic Violin
Concerto. The highly attractive First
Rhapsody is an early work so you may
prefer to hear the three fully mature
pieces presented here in superbly recorded
and performed versions. Georgiadis while
not as grippingly recorded as the even
more romanticised Mordkovich produced
the first ever commercial recording.
Lyrita's recording team were completely
on song for the event with the sweetest
but not necessarily the most succulent
of string tone and with forward and
fruity brass. As for the third rhapsody
it is classic Moeran though by no means
as profound as the Symphony or the Concerto.
There is about it an agreeable 1940s
blend of Rachmaninov and Irishry.
This disc is drawn
from the following LPs: SRCS 43 (Rhapsody
No. 2), SRCS 105 (Concerto) and SRCS-91
(Rhapsody No. 3); the latter coupled
at that time with Bridge’s Phantasm.
They were issued between 1967 and 1979.
A fine coupling including
some classic Moeran in enduringly rewarding
performances and recordings.