Recommended CDs

Here are eight essential recordings of Moeran's major works which ought to have a home in your collection - and you don't have to take my word for it - see the quotes from Gramophone magazine too!

Symphony in G Minor, Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra (mid price)
Ulster Orchestra, Vernon Handley, Margaret Fingerhut (piano)

A good reading of the Symphony by one of Moeran's great champions, Vernon Handley, who has also conducted this work for the BBC. "This performance proves that...its enduring strength lies not in its rich lyricism, nor its vivid land- and seascape imagery but in the tense anxiety that often disrupts them from beneath the surface" wrote Gramophone magazine in 1988. The coupling with the Piano Rhapsody and the low price make this a must-have CD.

Violin Concerto, Cello Concerto, Lonely Waters, Whythorne's Shadow (mid price)
Ulster Orchestra, Vernon Handley, Lydia Mordkovitch (violin), Bournmouth Sinfonietta, Norman Del Mar, Raphael Wallfisch (cello)

This is another disc which should be at the top of your shopping list for orchestral Moeran - four excellent works and four excellent recordings. Gramophone said "Mordkovitch plays beautifully...the Ulster Orchestra plays superbly... Vernon Handley is a sympathetic interpreter" about the Violin Concerto and "Raphael Wallfisch...plays with much beauty of tone and phrasing and Norman Del Mar obtains eloquent, high-quality playing from the orchestra" about the Cello Concerto.

Serenade in G, Nocturne (full price)
Ulster Orchestra, Vernon Handley, Renaissance Singers, Hugh Mackey (baritone)

The Serenade in G was originally written with 8 movements but two were cut by order of the publisher. This 1990 recording reintegrates these two much to the work's advantage - in fact these two, together with two other movements, originated in Moeran's 1932 Farrago Suite, which was subsequently withdrawn. It is therefore even more appropriate that his little heard, Delian Nocturne of 1934 is heard here, as is Warlock's Capriol Suite - it was the constant comparison with this work which led Moeran to with draw his Farrago Suite. Gramophone wrote: "The performance [of the Nocturne] is sensitive and is gently recorded...The Ulster Orchestra plays with exquisite refinement."

Serenade in G, Sinfonietta (mid price)
Northern Sinfonia, Richard Hickox

This is the Serenade in G as published, rather than the 8 movement version above. The coupling with the Sinfonietta is attractive, though splitting the two works by inserting the Finzi is perhaps not the most satisfactory solution to track listing - one for the CD programmer I think! Gramphone magazine wrote: "Richard Hickox has flair for this vein of British music and brings out both composers' considerable skill in the application of orchestral colours, mostly pastel shades in Finzi, but bolder in the Moeran pieces, which are among his more extrovert compositions."

String Quartets, Fantasy Quartet, Piano Trio (full price)
Vanbrugh Quartet, Nicholas Daniel (oboe), Joachim Piano Trio

Having already bought the Naxos CD of Moeran's chamber music (below) I delayed buying this disc. This, I am happy to say, was a mistake - the Vanbrugh Quartet bring a wonderful approach to the music on these superbly recorded performances, and the Piano Trio was an absolute revelation. One of the finest collections of Moeran recordings ever made - as Gramophone agreed: "Pure enjoyment from start to finish...the Vanbrugh Quartet makes both of Moeran’s early quartets sound like enterprising, beautifully engineered and uncommonly generous anthology – and a release, I fancy, already destined for inclusion in my ‘Critics’ Choice’ come the year’s end."

String Quartets, String Trio (budget price)
Maginni Quartet

Another superb disc of Moeran's chamber music, this time with the only currently available recording of his pivotal String Trio of 1931, this was my introduction to the world of Moeran and remains a firm favourite. To my tastes the Maginnis are just pipped to the post by the Vanbrugh's recordings of the two quartets, but it's a very close call. At this price you can probably afford to try both! Gramophone wrote "Excellent sound and balance throughout. I do urge you to investigate this enterprising, hugely enjoyable collection."

Cello Sonata (full price)
Raphael Wallfisch, John York

Once again Raphael Wallfisch is the prime mover in bringing Moeran's mature compositions for cello to the public, this time in a set pairing Moeran's sonata with those by Ireland and Rubbra. I may be biased, but Moeran's Cello Sonata seems to me to be the shining light on this disc - as it should, being widely regarded as one of the pinnacles of his compositional career. Gramophone wrote: "I can think of few cellists better suited temperamentally to this repertoire than Raphael Wallfisch. He has a warmth of tone that I find very appealing and his playing is always deeply musical."

Songs of Springtime, Phyllida and Corydon (full price)
Finzi Singers

These two choral works bookended Moeran's output in the 1930's and, in Songs of Springtime, represent some of his most performed output. The Finzi Singers manage to get well under the skin of both works in these superb recordings, and again a pairing with various choral works by Warlock is sympathetic. Gramophone wrote: "in these two matchless madrigal suites there is an indefinable Englishness—the result of a deep awareness of tradition and love of the countryside...the innate musicality of the Finzi Singers pays handsome dividends; these warm-toned, richly expressive voices...seem to capture the very essence of this uniquely lovely music."

©2011 The Worldwide Moeran Database



These recordings represent the best of Moeran available today on CD. Click on the covers to buy them now at low prices from Amazon UK.