D Coates; Moeran

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: D Coates; Moeran
LABELS: Divine Art
ALBUM TITLE: D Coates; Moeran
WORKS: Violin Concertos
PERFORMER: Colin Sauer, Campoli (violin); BBC Northern Orchestra/Charles Groves, BBC SO/Adrian Boult
CATALOGUE NO: 27806
Douglas Coates (1898-1974), Yorkshire-born, worked as a banker but was also a well-respected organist and quite a successful composer of carols and other small-scale pieces. His larger works got nowhere and he seems to have destroyed them all in despair; even the 1934 Violin Concerto, whose acceptance by the BBC’s reading panel (in 1945) led to its sole performance (in 1951), preserved only in the acetates made for the composer which are the source for this CD. Charles Groves apparently took against the piece, and there were unfavourable comments on its proportions (substantial first movement, brief slow movement and finale) and the orchestration of a few passages. Coates’s ardent Englishry, perhaps insufficiently varied in tone, was pretty much out of tune with the times by 1951. But violinist Colin Sauer takes every opportunity for eloquence, and Coates’s sincerity is indisputable: his work deserved revision, not destruction.

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The coupling, though, is an absolute stunner. Campoli’s 1954 live Festival Hall broadcast of EJ Moeran’s Violin Concerto outclasses the few recordings it has had since – his playing is utterly charismatic, turning the work unashamedly into a virtuoso vehicle. Adrian Boult directs an accompaniment completely at one with this passionate, extrovert view of the piece. The sole source is a badly degraded tape; but though there is distortion at climaxes Divine Art have done an amazing job in producing such a lifelike, gripping sound. Every enthusiast for Moeran’s music should have this disc. Calum MacDonald