Published

See individual works

Recordings

Eric Parkin
(1994, CD )

Una Hunt
(Spring 2001, CD)

Eric Parkin
(Selection)
Lyrita SRSC 42
(1972, LP )

Iris Loveridge
(Selection)
Lyrita RCS 3
(1959, mono LP
)

 

Reviews

 

Further Writing

 

 

Audio

At Moeran.com:
Autumn Woods
Theme and Variations
On a May Morning
Stalham River
Elegy
Summer Valley
Bank Holiday

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Solo Piano Works

Moeran wrote just about a CD's worth in total of published music of solo piano, in addition to a handful of earlier, unpublished works, between the years 1919 and 1933. Most of the works last somewhere between 2 and 5 minutes, with the notable exception of the Theme and Variations, his only extended work for solo piano, stretching towards a quarter of an hour. Much of the music of this time shows Moeran's earlier influences, such as Delius and Ireland, and the set makes an attractive listen. The recording by Eric Parkin is excellent, and a new disc by Irish Pianist Una Hunt is due for release in 2001.

I am grateful, as ever to Barry Marsh, for his notes, and also to J Martin Stafford for permission to use extracts from his Eric Parkin CD. For anyone having difficulty in obtaining this CD, he writes "I will send the Moeran disc to any address in the world (air mail where appropriate) for 12-50 (cheque to me) or a $20-00 bill (not cheque, as my bank would charge me about $10 to convert it to sterling). I am only an e-mail message or a letter away, so no one who wants my products should have too much difficulty in obtaining them."

You can contact J Martin Stafford, 298 Blossomfield Road, Solihull, B91 1TH, England, visit the website, or e-mail: ISMERON99@cs.com

 

Barry Marsh's Piano Works Notes

Three Piano Pieces (1919). R4

These are Moeran's first published compositions; they also mark the start of a lifelong love affair with Ireland, its scenery and its people. Early in 1918 he had come to Boyle in County Roscommon to recuperate from his war injuries. His first response to the landscape presents us with an impression not of reality but of other-worldliness. The Lake Island evokes Yeats's `land of fairie', unfolding lento over the calm and peaceful water. As a student, Moeran had heard Bax's In the Faery Hills. Autumn Woods owes something to that composer's tone poem November Woods, composed only the year before (1917). By contrast, At a Horse Fair is a lively depiction of a fair that Moeran had attended in Roscommon. For the first time we hear the offbeat rhythms which were to colour so many of his later works.
Published: Schott, 1921

Theme and Variations (1920) R5

The theme, introduced andante, seems instantly recognisable and yet cannot be categorised. A Norfolk folksong, surely? But no. It is Moeran's own, and its beauty serves as the basis for six variations and a finale. The first two are marked Poco piu moto and Allegro scherzando. The third, Alla marcia a con energico, is a march built out of rising octaves, which climax only to fall away into stillness. By contrast, Variation 4 is a calm Allegretto mixing bars of 6/8 and 9/8. The fifth, Vivace, reveals Moeran's true stature and looks forward to the Cello Sonata of 1947. Variation 6 is slow and songlike, non troppo lento a rubato. A series of violent chords wakes us from our reverie as the finale, Allargando ma non troppo brings this, the most extended of his piano pieces, to its scintillating conclusion.
Published: Schott, 1923

On a May Morning (1921) R12

In 1920 Moeran resumed his studies at the Royal College of Music. His composition teacher was John Ireland, whose influence is clearly heard in this work of 1921. If the style is derivative, the structure is individual, transforming a rather limpid introduction into a more eventful dance in 6/8 time.
Published: Schott, 1922

Toccata (1921) R13

Written in Norfolk at the same time as Stalham River, the music is characterised by the emergence of its theme in chords contrasted by a singing central section. Again the writing is florid, in the manner of Debussy's Children's Corner Suite, for which Moeran had a great affection.
Published: Chester, 1924

Stalham River (1921) R14

The inscription on the manuscript "Bacton, Norfolk September 1921" refers to the village where the family had been living since 1913. Expeditions into the East Norfolk countryside often brought the composer to the tiny hamlets of Sutton and Stalham. With its florid writing, this is a loving portrait of that part of the world which he knew so well and which inspired the 1924 orchestral piece Lonely Waters.
Published: Chester, 1924

Three Fancies (1922) R17

The Norfolk countryside impressed the young Moeran, particularly on his long walks from village to village in search of folk songs. After a short introduction the main theme of Windmills develops presto from a three bar fragment. The reiterated accompanying figure suggests the whirling of windmill sails - a familiar sight on the Broadland skyline. Elegy brings us to the heart of the matter, a dreamy pastorale yet with hints of darker moods below the surface - a prophetic glimpse perhaps of the composer's own destiny. Burlesque whirls us around, calling to mind the music of Mahler, of whom he was to write: his music is perfectly sublime to the point of spiritual ecstacy.
Published: Schott, 1922

Two Legends (1923) R22

By 1923 Moeran was on the threshold of success. Folksong had been the unifying element in his first orchestral rhapsody but, as with Vaughan Williams, it was so much a part of his subconscious that he could just as easily create his own. This is how A Folk Story is cast. Rune is more elusive but no less atmospheric. Its title, which relates to the Viking `alphabet of signs' may owe something to Bax's interest in the subject. Moeran had met him in 1919, but both composers were influenced by a greater master, who had long ago fallen under the spell of the Norse myths - Sibelius.
Published: Augener, 1924

Summer Valley (1925) R37

Moeran dedicated this piece to Delius, whom he fervently admired ever since hearing his Piano Concerto while still a student. Delius's style is imitated in a beautiful Sicilienne, a form often used in Delius's tone poems. The layout of Summer Valley seems to show Moeran thinking more of orchestral colour than of the textures of the piano.
Published: OUP, 1928

Bank Holiday (1925) R36

This short celebratory piece, with more than an echo of Percy Grainger's Shepherd's Hey, seems to be Moeran's way of expressing optimism for a new future. 1925 was, after all, the year in whch he would break away from his conventional family background and go to live with the equally unconventional Peter Warlock.
Published: OUP, 1927

Irish Love Song (1926) R47

Moeran's visits to Ireland did not become frequent until the early 1930s, so this folk song might have been brought to his attention by Peter Warlock (who too had spent some time in Ireland and to whom this arrangement is dedicated). On the other hand, Moeran might have heard it as early as 1918. Hamilton Harty, another of Moeran's mentors, also used this tune in his Irish Symphony.
Published: OUP, 1926

The White Mountain (1927) R50

Moeran made his piano arrangement of this Irish folk song in 1927, a significant year in which he was considering how to exorcise the dominant influence of Peter Warlock. The overt use of chromaticism is here avoided in favour of simplicity. The tune must have haunted Moeran; for shortly before he died in 1950 he was contemplating a Symphonic Scena to verses by his friend Niall O'Leary Curtis, the last part of which was to have been based on The White Mountain.
Published: OUP, 1927

Two Pieces (1933) R67

Several of Moeran's works after 1930 are pervaded by an underlying sadness which mirrors a loss. Peter Warlock had died in that year. The hymn-like almost mournful sadness of the Prelude in G minor is in curious contrast to the perky echoes of `Tom, Tom the Piper's Son' in the middle section. The Berceuse is a continuous melody rooted in the traditions of folk- song, freely accompanied but also harmonised in the grandest Delian manner.
Published: Schott, 1935

 

 

Piano Music

Three Pieces (1919)
Theme and Variations (1920)
On a May Morning (1921)
Toccata (1921)
Stalham River (1921)
Three Fancies (1922)
Two Legends (1923)
Summer Valley (1925)
Bank Holiday (1925)
Irish Love Song (1926)
The White Mountain (1927)
Two Pieces (1933)

 

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