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Cat. No. CHAN 10169 X Price: £7 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10169 - Moeran: Symphony in G/ Overture for a Masque/Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra
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Available From: 12 January 2004
Sir Arnold Bax perceptively summed up Moeran’s creative personality thus: During his first thirty years he was an Englishman and a diligent collector of East Anglian folktunes, whilst for the remainder of his days he was almost exclusively Irish.

This duality of personality is pertinent to the Symphony in G minor where both strands stand side by side. Moeran’s formative experiences took place in Norfolk where his father was rector in the coastal village of Bacton. There he began to collect the folksongs which he effortlessly assimilated into his compositions – as he was later to do in Kerry. As he matured, other influences apart from folksong were brought to bear, and he developed a voice which was an eclectic embracing of composers as diverse as Sibelius, Delius ,Walton and Stravinsky. Sibelius was lionised in England between the wars; considering this symphony was Moeran’s first attempt at large-scale symphonic form, it was perhaps inevitable that Sibelius’s shadow should hover benignly over it.

The Rhapsody in F sharp, Moeran’s third, is a one-movement concertante piece for piano and orchestra, written to commission for performance at a Promenade Concert in 1943. In broadly ternary form (in which the Irish countryside features less strongly), the piece is notable for its brilliant and riotous coda.

The Overture for a Masque was commissioned for the Entertainments National Service Association. ‘I am going to make it snappy and exciting for the troops’ wrote Moeran, who achieved this end with exuberant syncopation and sparkling orchestral textures. The work was composed during the winter of 1943–44, in the Welsh Marches, where walks along Hergest Ridge were a constant joy to him. Some measure of that delight is surely captured here.
Reviews

'it is a toe-tapper of palpable joy.
Gramophone

Handleys reading is superb, and both the remastered sound and generous timing of this disc require an automatic recommendation.
American Record Guide

 

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