Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Moeran, the forgotten pastoralist

Ernest John Moeran (1893-1950) was perhaps the last of the great British pastoral composers. A pupil of Charles Stanford and John Ireland, his oeuvre is not large, but ultimately highly rewarding. Influences of folk songs from Norfolk and Ireland are often present in his work. His major compositions are the cello concerto (one of the best in the genre to my taste), the violin concerto, and his only symphony. This work, composed between 1924 and 1937, shows some influences of Sibelius and Bax, but stands firm as an original work, and as one of the best symphonies to come from the UK in the 20th century. This Naxos CD presents the 45 minutes symphony with an interesting coupling: the 1940Sinfonietta. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, under James Lloyd, comes up with an excellent performance, very well recorded. A highly recommended CD to explore one of the most unjustly neglected composers of the 20th century.