Wigmore Hall Concert Review

Mr E J Moeran's ambition did not quite go to the length of giving a one-man's show, for his concert at Wigmore Hall on January 15th concluded with the Ravel Quartet, but it was obviously given for the purpose of introducing two important works from his pen - a String Quartet in A and a Violin Sonata in E minor.

The former is the earlier of the two, and its chief merits are concentrated in a vigourous and sparkling final Rondo. Its opening subject suffers a little from the fact that its principal subject was apparently chosen more with a view to the mission it had to fill than for its intrinsic attractiveness.

In this respect the Allegro of the Sonata shows a great advance, for its impetuosity is not hampered by technical obligations, although these are met as consciously as we have a right to expect in a modern sonata. In short, this mevement falls into line, as the other did not, with the general sponteneity of Mr Moeran's work.

This quality is perhaps more pronounced in the slow movements of both works, though it is naturally less assertive in the lyrical mood. Where it leaps up to meet the listener is in the two final movements, the Rondo which has been referred to above, and the concluding section of the Sonata.

Mr Moeran, who has been working with John Ireland, inclines, like many other composers of today, to rely on the pentatonic scale for the fashioning of his thematic material. It is this that gives it the flavour which is conventionally recognised as Celtic, although a film now showing proves it to be Tibetan. In his case it has been hailed as Irish, and non can object. The flavour itself is good, but we cannot entirely overlook the circumstance that with the pentatonic scale it is next to impossible to go wrong. The composer's treatment is, however, remarkably interesting.

The performers were Miss Harriet Cohen (who played with much charm a group of not very weighty pianoforte pieces before tackling the Sonata, in which she was joined by Desiré Defauw) and the Allied String Quartet, of which Mr. Defauw is leader. Both the concerted pieces were given with that assurance which denotes careful preparation and sympathetic interest. Hence the interpretation was excellent.

E.E.
Musical Times
February 1923

 

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The flavour itself is good, but we cannot entirely overlook the circumstance that with the pentatonic scale it is next to impossible to go wrong...