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Tragedy and Tranquility,
This review is from: Moeran: Cello Concerto, Serenade, Lonely Waters, Whythorne's Shadow (Audio CD)
This is an all to rare opportunity to hear a disc of Ernest Moeran's orchestral pieces, not only the cello concerto of 1945, but three shorter works, the Serenade, Lonely Waters and Whythorne's Shadow.
Moeran's music is reflective of his upbringing in Norfolk and of his Anglo-Irish background, a certain folk influence melting into a spare pastoral tranquility. Moeran's close friendship with Philip Heseltine - Peter Warlock - is evident, both in Whythorne's Shadow (based on a re-discovery by Heseltine of a madrigal by the Elizabethan composer Thomas Whythorne), and in the Serenade, which with its Elizabethan references is reminiscent of the Capriol Suite.
In the Adagio of the concerto particularly, it's hard not to think of Moeran's First World War experiences (he was badly injured on the Western Front), but this is far from heart-on-the-sleeve stuff; on the contrary, the transparency of the orchestration leads to a kind of pellucid beauty, and it's all the more affecting for that.
Guy Johnston's performance seems definitive; this is a reading of the utmost sensitivity, and he's sympathetically supported by the Ulster Orchestra and JoAnn Falletta.