Ernest John Moeran, MOERAN: Symphony in G minor / Sinfonietta

James Jolly

By James Jolly

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A moody masterpiece reflects Europe’s gathering gloom.

I've known this fine work for a long time. Leslie Heward, a British conductor who died very young, gave its premiere and also recorded it in 1942. It's a strong piece written during the '30s and clearly reflecting the gathering gloom of Europe at the time. It's painted in dark colours and though it has a Scherzo of surprising lightness and apparent brilliance, it is a work of brooding power. Moeran's music might in passing bear some resemblance to that of Sibelius — he, too, is superb at conveying that sense of man's struggle against the huge vistas and landscape of the world around him — but the accent is undeniably English. This recording was made at remarkably short notice when some sessions fell through, and David Lloyd-Jones inspired playing of real distinction from the Bournemouth Symphony. Here, again, is music perfectly attuned to place and atmosphere: in this work, the Atlantic coast of Ireland's County Kerry. A gem!