Moeran's Sinfonietta

This work of 1944 has taken some time to reach the high places, but may be said to have arrived on January 25th when it was admitted to the Royal Philharmonic itself, with Sir Thomas Beecham conducting. It entered under a certain disadvantage, for the works to which it bore company were Berlioz's overture 'King Lear', Sibelius's fourth Symphony and Delius's first Dance Rhapsody, each an extreme example of individualism and remoteness from ordinary contacts; whereas Moeran's work makes its communications on a plane we all know.

Its originality is what may be called short-termed, and lies in the way things are kept going rather than in the shape and size of the things themselves. Sprightliness and colour can be simulated, and frequently are; to Moeran they come spontaneously. He has his own brisk gait and, especially in the variations of the second movement, his own intricacies of harmony and colour. Further, the harmony is active and modern-sounding in a way that does not depend on manufactured discords; its resources are more varied than that.

Well invested incidents abound; and if they sometimes seem to hustle each other, that is a rare form of excess. From the manner of the scoring it was a likely guess that the players of the R.P.O. enjoyed their parts; and something to the same effect seemed to come from Sir Thomas, the conductor. His was indeed a remarkable evening's work, for he attended to each of the four works as if his whole career depended on it.

W. McN. Musical Times Feb 1950

 

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...the harmony is active and modern-sounding in a way that does not depend on manufactured discords; its resources are more varied than that...