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Moeran: Symphony in G Minor / Overture for A Masque / Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra

January 1, 1988 | Format: MP3

$7.99
Also available in CD Format
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13:48
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13:08
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5:06
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14:36
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9:41
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17:42
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By rash67 VINE VOICE on September 3, 2010
Format: Audio CD
EJ Moeran, though sometimes classified as British, he lived some of his life in the Britain, he was classified as an Irish Composer in his day! (That's one of the reasons the Ulster Orchestra recorded this). He is of Anglo/Irish parentage. The only thing wrong with his brilliant Symphony in G is that it is the only symphony he ever wrote. It is wonderful music and while it has things in common with Sibelius, Delius and Moerans drinking buddy Sir Arnold Bax he is really more like his contemporary Ralph Vaughan Williams than anyone else. The symphony is every bit as good as the best by another Bax drinking buddy Vaughan Williams! Like Bax and much of Vaughan Williams, it is Nature music. There is a beautiful passage of the second movement that always reminds me of a kite rising into the sun. The liner notes mention sand dunes and marshes of East Anglia and melancholy tone pictures of mountains and seaboard of County Kerry. It seems to contain reference to stormy weather, although there is no program with it. The music is Impressionist or shares a late Impressionist feeling with Vaughan Williams, Bax, Stravinsky and Sibelius. It is by no means a lesser symphony than any of theirs. It is sad that Moeran didn't write another (or he didn't finish it himself).

EJ Moeran did not write "British Light Music"!!!! Finzi wrote British Light. Grainger wrote British Light. This is NOT "light music". British Light refers to miniature pieces under 5 minutes. It is NOT in any way derivative.

Don't overlook this thoughtful Vernon Handley performance because of what is written elsewhere. If you are tired of listening to the same old (mostly German & French) composers all the time, this is a really refreshing change. And melodic - not so modern as to be obnoxiously dissonant.
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Format: Audio CD
There is a general consensus of opinion that this symphony is Moeran's masterpiece. it is cogently written and holds the attention throughout. It is also expertly crafted with expertly written use of the orchestra. It stands out among Moeran's work in much the same way as the Sorcerer's Apprentice stands out in the work of Dukas. The puzzle of course is, given the evident technical skill and musical inspiration, why did lightening only strike once? Whatever the answer we will never know so we must be content with what we have.

Handley has made something of a speciality of English music and this recording can be counted as one of his many successes in that field. In this he is following in the footsteps of Adrian Boult who has also made a successful recording of this work. Boult is a little more emotionally restrained than Handley but that difference is to be expected bearing in mind their respective musical temperaments. As a result the Boult climaxes are more structural in feel whereas Handley is more excitable. Both are equally effective in their different ways.

Handley has a completely different coupling to offer with two pieces. The Rhapsody for piano is well delivered by all concerned (the pianist is Margaret Fingerhut) and that has been added to the original disc's program which was rather short on playing time. The Overture for a Masque was the short original extra item so this represents better value. In my opinion neither of the extra pieces matches the symphony for inspiration, especially the Rhapsody which fails to stick in my memory shortly after it has finished. Others may find this a stronger piece than me though. I prefer the overture.

The whole disc is well recorded with good sound and realistic balances between the instruments. This is a very tempting disc for anyone interested in the program.
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Format: Audio CD
I've been listening to more and more of Moeran in the last few years, and I've been liking everything I've heard. I have the performances of the Symphony and Overture for a Masque in their original issue from Chandos, paired on one disc, but since this is the newer release, I'm writing my short review here, and focusing on the Symphony, which is the big draw. It's a marvelous work, definitely British, though to my ears not in the vein of Ralph Vaughan Williams but rather Arnold Bax, his near contemporary. Perhaps it's the Irish connection: Moeran's father was Irish, and the composer died while treading Irish soil. Bax, who was English, was drawn to Ireland through the poetry of William Butler Yeats. In any case, if you like Bax's music I suspect you're bound to enjoy that of Moeran: On other discs you will find three Rhapsodies, a Sinfonietta and a Serenade, plus the String Quartets. And if you're lucky, perhaps you'll come across the now out-of-print release of complete piano music from ASV. This isn't quaint, traditional-sounding music for would-be squires. This is lyrical impressionism that's top drawer.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is really a review of two CDs, both recordings of Moeran's G-minor symphony, and the two which to my knowledge are the most easily obtainable on the market today. The other one is on Naxos, directed by David LLoyd-Jones, and I have enjoyed it, but comparing it with this one by Vernon Handley (with the Ulster Symphony Orchestra) has made clear the differences to me.

In the first movement, Lloyd-Jones delivers a more extravert reading than Handley, at slightly faster tempos, making it somewhat more of an orchestral showpiece, in the vein of Holst. The recording is good, but places us at a slightly greater distance than Handley's. Handley, however, delivers a reading in which both the subsidiary, accompanying voices and the main lines emerge more firmly, and given the more close-up recording (which in its new remastering seems equally good), they also seem more ripe and full-bodied. The result is to tie the music somewhat more to what other reviewers have commented on, which is the sense of landscape. Handley captures both the sweep and roll of the landscape, as well as its inner, mysterious, brooding character, in what to me is a more effective reading.

That seems even more true in the second movement. Handley's performance opens immediately into a mood of dark, powerful mystery, somewhat like the opening of the Sibelius 4th (or really, even more like the Pastorale of Nielsen's 3rd), and he sustains the depth of feeling throughout. In Handley's reading we hear much more of the ripe vein of nostalgia and intense yearning we often hear in Vaughan Williams, yet the voice of this composer is definitely his own. The third and final movements fare similarly.
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