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English Cello Sonatas

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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  • Composer: E J Moeran, Edmund Rubbra, John Ireland
  • Audio CD (16 Jun. 1995)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Marco Polo
  • ASIN: B00000463L
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 227,264 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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The three composers represented here show the depth of 20th century British music. Rubbra, the symphonist and large scale thinker; Moeran who perhaps might have been thought a symphonist if he had lived longer - he wrote a wonderful but solitary symphony in the late 30s; and Ireland who was essentially more comfortable in small forms.
Moeran was half-Irish and Irish inflections inform his often unbearably intense lyricism. He wrote this work for his wife, the cellist, Peers Coetmore. She recorded it for Lyrita many years ago in a not altogether satisfactory performance. Raphael Wallfisch brings his considerable technique to bring this achingly beautiful work to life. It may suggest the Irish landscape but perhaps it also says something of the pain of the man himself. It is not all pastoral idyll, though. The final movement is vigorous and rhythmic. Memorable throughout.
Ireland was once asked if he considered himself a great composer. No, he said, but I'm a really good second rate one. This is nonsense, of course. His chamber music and piano compositions are peerless. This cello sonata is no exception. It opens with a four note motif which could only have been written by him. All the additional themes seem to be related - everything grows from what has gone before. It is totally memorable and totally Ireland. The central movement, to my mind, is the weakest - somehow it does not fix itself in the mind so much. It passes straight into the finale with a rhythmic variant of the very opening theme. Every bar of this is characteristic - a vigorous and exciting end.
Rubbra stands aside from the other two. Moeran and Ireland were harmonic composers whereas Rubbra was more contrapuntal.
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Format: Audio CD
If you love this repertoire (early C20 english music/cello) you can't go too far wrong with this lovely disc. The Ireland is quite well known, and deservedly, but the Moeran and Rubbra less well known. The neglect is undeserved, - the Rubbra is taut and cogent (as you'd expect) and the Moeran is intimate and rhapsodic (as you'd expect).
It (the Moeran) was written for Peers Coetmore, then the composer's fiance, later his wife and dedicatee of Moeran's absolutely superb cello concerto (her performance on an old Lyrita LP was one of the treasures of my vinyl collection).
Wallfisch is a champion of english cello music, usually on Chandos and sometimes on Naxos, and can be relied upon for at least fine playing, sometimes inspired (as on his Finzi recording for Chandos). This isn't quite at the Finzi concerto level, and possibly reflects a little less familiarity with the pieces(??) but is certainly good, as is the sympathetic playing of john York. Nor is the recording quite at the level of some of Chandos' cello recordings, although it's certainly good.
For those reasons and because the sonatas, whilst lovely, are slightly-less-than-top drawer compared to the very best works of all three composers, I've gone for a curmudgeonly (and possibly mean) four stars rather than five for a disc of interest, distinction and reward. Recommended.
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