COMPOSERS: D Coates; Moeran
ALBUM TITLE: Moeran: In the Mountain Country
WORKS: Rhapsodies Nos 1 & 2; Rhapsody for Piano & Orchestra; Overture for a Masque; In the Mountain Country
PERFORMER: Ulster Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta
CATALOGUE NO: 8.573106
This selection of EJ Moeran’s shorter orchestral works makes a pleasant adjunct to Naxos’s Moeran series. It also illustrates that, though he started late, he developed rapidly as an orchestral composer. The short early tone-poem In the Mountain Country (1921) and the First Rhapsody of the following year are student works, pleasant but somewhat tentative and uncharacteristic. But by 1924, with the Second Rhapsody, he was producing a score of real confidence and strong personality, imbued with the accents of Irish folksong. (Admittedly we hear it in its 1941 revision, though that was largely confined to the scoring.) The Third, last and longest Rhapsody, a much later piece (1943), is scored for piano and orchestra and is Moeran’s nearest approach to a piano concerto: it may ramble a bit but is a very enjoyable work full of telling ideas, and Benjamin Frith definitely makes the most of the meaty solo part.
The programme is rounded out by the bustling and good-natured Overture for a Masque, composed for Entertainments National Service Association to entertain the troops, which is as good as any of the Walton overtures. JoAnn Falletta directs the Ulster Orchestra with a keen understanding of Moeran’s idiom, the lyric vulnerability as well as the extrovert dynamism.