Moeran’s singingly open-air exhilaration and poignant poetry
have won his music staunch friends. Enlightened and more accommodating times
have opened the door and welcomed him in where not so very long ago he was
dismissed as otiose.
A Moeran orchestral score, whether early or late, is readily
identifiable. The man has a clear aural signature. His G minor Symphony has
done quite well on record. It basked in Leslie Heward
’s pioneering British Council-sponsored
recording during the days of the 78. A 1970s EMI LP brought us Neville Dilkes
’ reading with the English Sinfonia which stood
a doorstep down from Boult
’s Lyrita version - still the finest overall. Naxos
and David Lloyd-Jones
recorded it with the Bournemouth Symphony
Orchestra - an excellent version. In addition Dutton
have recorded Martin Yates’s realisation of
the Second Symphony.
Last year Naxos
issued what I consider the best version of the
problematically laid-back Cello Concerto with JoAnn Falletta conducting.
She, together with soloist Guy Johnston, really made it work. The gorgeous
Violin Concerto has a floor plan similar to that of the Delius Concerto and
lends itself more easily to successful performance. It will feature in
concert twice this year at the English Music
on 23 May with Rupert Marshall-Luck and the week before at King’s Lynn
on 17 May with Pauline Lowbury. Little has
recorded it in an illustrious and splendid version with Chandos (CHAN 10796)
who, remarkably enough, already had the Concerto in its catalogue with Lydia Mordkovitch
as soloist. The complete solo piano music has also
been recorded by Duncan Honeybourne for EM Records
Now Falletta returns with another Moeran disc. This one couples all
three Rhapsodies with two other concert works; one of them drawing from the
same well as the Rhapsodies. In fact In the Mountain Country
well be counted as Rhapsody No. 0.
There is no direct competition for this group of works. To achieve
anything approaching it you would need two mid-price Chandos discs (review review
) where the Ulster Orchestra again are conducted by
Vernon Handley. I have a lot of time for the Ulster Orchestra and although
they have probably gone through several changes of personnel since the early
1980s I always thought that something went out of the wings of Bryden
Thomson’s Chandos Bax cycle when he switched from them to the LPO
after recording a still unmatched Fourth Symphony.
Back to Moeran: There is a logic to having the three Rhapsodies
together although the last one is more of a compact ‘cinematic’
piano concerto. What Falletta brings to these scores we also heard in the
earlier Cello Concerto disc; that is an oxygen-rich, gale-blown vitality.
There is nothing bland or short-changed here and I rather hope that Naxos
will let her loose on the Symphony in G minor. Boult is superb in that work
but Falletta would bring the sort of blood-rushing Tchaikovskian passion
that we heard from Vassily Sinaisky when he conducted the work at the BBC
Proms in 2009 and John Longstaff who directed the Sheffield Symphony
Orchestra in 2005. The Moeran symphony thrives under that sort of treatment.
Allowing for some very slightly blurred lines here and there by comparison
with Boult’s version
of the uproarious, yea-saying
Overture on Lyrita this Naxos disc is well worth your cash.
The sound is full-on and splendid, courtesy of Tim Handley and Phil
Rowlands. The booklet notes are by Paul Conway and are admirably done.
JoAnn Falletta brings real vibrancy to these scores.
Moeran review index