Cello Concerto Hallé Review, 1946

THE HALLE CONCERTS

It is possible that the bright young people of our time, or at any rate those queer souls who are known (strangely enough) as the intelligentsia, would deny that composers who are so impulsive as to allow emotional feeling an equal place with intellectual effort when they write their music are modernists in the strict sense of the term. If that notion prevails Mr.E.J.Moeran, whose Violoncello Concerto was played at last night’s concert in the Houldsworth Hall, Manchester, would no doubt gladly disavow any connection with modern fashions in musical art. He is frankly and unashamedly prone to spontaneous emotional feeling and it is obvious that his impulses are never cooled down or diverted from their natural expression by anxiety about whether he is or is not true to up-to-date style. Yet it is no less obvious that Moeran has the modern harmonic technique at his finger-ends and when he likes, can be as free, daring, and ingenious in its use are most of the younger men. Whereas many composers who during their early years lived in the midst of the romantic movement in art reacted against the spell and sought to prove its illusoriness, Moeran is among those richer natures who combine present-day ideas with undisturbed attachment to and real feeling for traditional views. The occasional complexities of the ‘Cello Concerto which is highly original in thematical material and in the treatment of it, offer more difficulty to the performers than to listeners. As Mr.John F.Russell suggests in his analysis in the programme, Celtic influences as well as meditations on the English countryside have apparently had their effect on the work, though the composer perhaps remains sceptical about that matter. A deeply expressive adagio and a varied and picturesque finale are movements that will, we think, appeal to all tastes, and both these sections of the work show an inward cohesion which, in spite of rhapsodic passages, binds image to image in logical sequence.

The soloist last night was Miss Peers Coetmore (Mrs.Moeran, the composer’s wife), and she gave us a delightfully spirited performance of the ‘cello music. The solo frequently explores the highest positions on the strings, and once or twice a slightly doubtful intonation was heard, but the general firmness and fluency of Miss Coetmore’s playing were as admirable as its interpretative range. Under Mr.Barbirolli’s sensitive direction the orchestral parts were finely suited to the work’s texture and to the style of the soloist.

G.A.H.
[review of the first Manchester/Halle performance
of the Cello Concerto, 30 Oct.1946]

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...composers who are so impulsive as to allow emotional feeling an equal place with intellectual effort when they write their music are modernists in the strict sense of the term...