Moeran's collected songs now have their long-overdue recording, many of them for the first time. English composers from Vaughan Williams onward have benefited from numerous renditions of their songs on disc, including Hyperion's indispensable 2CD-sets of John Ireland, the major published songs of Gurney, and the Hardy settings of Finzi. Bridge and Bliss got full treatment as well; RVW and Butterworth enjoy many interpreters; the best of Holst and Quilter and Warlock have appeared on disc here and there. Chandos' last big contribution was the wonderful Howells set (2CDs) in 1994, and now finally they have followed this up with Moeran, surely the most worthy name of that generation still awaiting a dedicated song recording.
The Housman settings are mostly attractive, complementing those of Butterworth (similarly folk-influenced). Roderick Williams is successful in those and in the pensive Joyce songs. Adrian Thompson performs the bright Elizabethan settings and the lovely "Invitation in Autumn," and it's a shame he wasn't given the rest of the O'Sullivan songs too, because Geraldine McGreevy's voice is thin, lacking richness, not even consistently clear of pitch or tone. It's all the more unfortunate as this song set, from the late years of Moeran's too-short life, is rare on record.
Despite the flaws and the minimal stature of the earliest songs, this is an important entry in the catalogue of English song. John Talbot, pianist and editor of the scores for Thames Music, deserves thanks.