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Cat. No. CHAN 10235 X Price: £7 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10235 - Moeran: In the Mountain Country/ Rhapsodies 1 & 2/Nocturne/Serenade
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Available From: 09 August 2004
The fact that In the Mountain Country was inspired by the landscape of Ireland is underlined by the title Moeran had first chosen: ‘Cushinsheeaun: symphonic impression’, which is still legible on the surviving manuscript. The piece exemplifies that feature of Moeran’s early writing which is most notable: folk-sounding themes that are, in fact, original.

Rhapsody No. 1 is dedicated to Moeran’s teacher, John Ireland. In it, Moeran builds on the experience gained in writing In the Mountain Country, though the form is more complex, as is the treatment of the larger orchestra.

Rhapsody No. 2 is memorable for its melody, and begins with a tune on bass clarinet, the opening phrases of which are in fact the Norfolk folksong Polly on the Shore. The work was composed for the 1924 Norfolk and Norwich Centenary Festival. After its first performance in Norwich it was revised for a somewhat smaller orchestra and it is this version which is recorded here.

In January 1935 Jelka Delius wrote asking Moeran to dedicate Nocturne to the memory of her husband who had died the year before. The sunset mood, the use of the chorus in eight parts with baritone solo, and the memory of Delius’ choral work Sea Drift in particular, must inform our stylistic view of this evocative score. Yet the folk-like woodwind writing was ever a Moeran fingerprint, while the passionate final choral outburst is strongly reminiscent of Vaughan Williams’s Flos Campi.

The Serenade in G consisted of eight movements when it was first performed at the Proms in 1948, but Moeran’s publisher thought the work too long and insisted that he jettison two of them. It was an unfortunate decision for the deleted ‘Intermezzo’ and ‘Forlana’ underline the work’s personality. On this recording, therefore, the two lost movements have been reinstated.
Reviews

Handleys… performances are well studied and beautiful.
American Record Guide

The performances under Vernon Handley… are absolutely splendid, and are warmly and spaciously recorded.
The Independent

The Ulster Orchestra plays with exquisite refinement.
Gramophone

 

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