Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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E.J. MOERAN  Violin Concerto Albert Sammons/BBCSO/Boult Fantasy Quartet Leon Goossens/Carter String Trio Serenade London Symphony Orch./ Cameron Historic Live Recordings 1946-1948 SYMPOSIUM CD 1201 [72:44]



This disc was a long time in coming. That it is here now is a great tribute to Symposium who have made rather a speciality of these historical issues. The sound is mono but is actually quite good though naturally enough without the sensitivity and liveliness of a modern stereo recording. On the plus side the performances here and the natural radio ambience (complete with announcements and applause) lend a magisterial authenticity and a certain intensity which modern studio recordings often strive for in vain.

This is an important and enjoyable disc and the compelling reason for buying it is the concerto.

This is the third recording of the Concerto (Sammons second and last performance) which is a work with a layout matching the Delius concerto (also recorded by Sammons - Testament): slow-fast-slow. This seems to ideally partner the Celtic temperament. The Mordkovich on Chandos is fine though raw and perhaps a little lacking in tenderness. The Georgiadis Lyrita LP is the best 'modern' recording and is well worth waiting for if you must have stereo though even that one dates from circa 1976. Sammons' tumbling and turning decoration at 8.45 in the dashing second movement is remarkable. Similarly the static and stagnant Van Dieren-like ghostliness of the third movement is vividly communicated by both Boult and Sammons. That third movement has a dank poetry which reminds me of the trailing lichen trees of Whistman's Wood on Dartmoor. Another poetic work, Moeran's Delian Nocturne is evoked at 7.19 on track 3. Finally the work boils to a fine climax that suggests that either Moeran had heard RVW's 49th Parallel or vice versa.

Goossens is first class in the quartet and it is good to have a (the) contemporary recording by the dedicatee. The work is fresh and has a hushed poetry. There are several recentish recordings of the quartet. This one is not likely to be the governing reason for buying the disc. The complete Serenade shows how the work sounded as presented at the Proms. It is one of Moeran's least impressive works. In it he seems to have had more of a kinship with Warlock (Capriol) and RVW. The air is however done with great sensitivity. The Gallop is uproarious rather like the old Revolution LP by Handley and the Guildford PO.

These records were made available by the late lamented Lionel Hill and we should be eternally grateful for the foresight that made these recordings in the first place and the goodness and wisdom of those who permitted their issue and who handled the technical side with such care.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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