Moeran: String Quartet in E flat; String Quartet in A minor; String Trio in G

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Moeran
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: String Quartet in E flat; String Quartet in A minor; String Trio in G
PERFORMER: Maggini String Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554079
Moeran’s chamber music has real fluency: all the parts subtly contribute to the beautifully balanced textures. The pick here is the splendid String Trio, in which a distinctive voice, deriving in large measure from a deep love of folksong, is combined with rigorous development. The opening theme is memorable, the larger-scale vision magnificently controlled. The eloquent slow movement benefits from the refined dynamics and pure intonation of the Maggini Quartet, and from a true Adagio tempo: its playing has great concentration.

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While the recorded sound is truthful and reliable, climactic moments lack that satisfyingly rich sonority which string music can achieve. However, this limitation highlights the intimacy which lies at the heart of Moeran’s style, as the A minor Quartet also demonstrates. Its effectively phrased opening theme develops a momentum which proves well able to accommodate a more reflective aspect, too. The Quartet in E flat was an ‘apprentice’ composition, found among Moeran’s papers after his death in 1950. Although less impressive, it is skilfully written and worth resurrecting. The more widely Moeran becomes known, the higher his stature rises. Terry Barfoot