Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


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Ernest John MOERAN (1894-1950)
The Complete Solo Piano Music
Bank Holiday (1925)
The White Mountain (1927)
On A May Morning (1921)
Toccata (1921)
Two Legends (1923): A Folk Story; Rune
Three Piano Pieces (1919): The Lake Island; Autumn Woods; At A Horse Fair
Two Pieces (1933): Prelude; Berceuse
Theme And Variations (1920)
Summer Valley (1925)
Stalham River (1921)
Three Fancies (1922): Windmills; Elegy; Burlesque
Irish Love Song (1926)
Una Hunt (piano)
Rec. 2002. DDD
ASV CD DCA 1138 [77.04]

Una Hunt makes a superb job of the Moeran piano music and is extremely well recorded.

We start with the smilingly undulating Bank Holiday (touches of Grainger in this) though it could have gone with more zest as I seem to remember was the case when John McCabe recorded this for Decca. White Mountain sings with the quintessential Irish ‘fall’ that speaks of melancholy and beauty its refrain echoing ‘I love my love’ from Holst's Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing Day. Then comes the knockabout Toccata which also has a powerful emotional undertow. The Two Legends take us into Baxian mindscapes. The arpeggios of A Folk Story mimic the bardic harp and suggest the wilderness lakes in RVW's Prelude to The 49th Parallel. The same resonance can be found in the Irish Love Song and Rune's argent tracery. The Lake Island ripples smoothly like the wavelets ceaselessly wearing away at the shore. Autumn Woods is more impressionistic than bardic. The boozy scherzoso of At a Horse Fair reminds in parts of the central movement of the Moeran Violin Concerto. The Two Pieces of 1933 are respectively Prelude (complex at first but tracking through a child's songs and singing as if caught in the wrack) and Berceuse a drooping Debussian sigh.

Theme and Variations is the single biggest piece here and although it has its moments I am not at all sure that Moeran was at ease with such structures - at least not for the piano. Then comes the lambent dream of Summer Valley dedicated to Delius, the composer admired by both Moeran and his friend Warlock. Stalham River is perfect in its expression of a sollipsistic repose; it was inspired by the same stretch of Norfolk water as his orchestral piece Lonely Waters. The Three Fancies are very much of their time: colourful mood pieces ... the introversion of landscape into mindscape.

We can only keep our fingers crossed that Una Hunt will next turn to the similar romantic-impressionist piano poems of Greville Cooke (who will be the first to record Cormorant Crag?) and the piano miniatures of Farjeon, John Pullein and Norman Friskin.

Even in Theme and Variations you will not find anything as sweepingly potent as the symphony. However of poetic and sensitive melancholy you can drink your fill. Wonderful stuff, superbly recorded and strongly recommended.

Rob Barnett

see also review by John Talbot

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