When one attempts to orchestrate someone else's compositions, the results are at best a compromise at worst a disaster - but..... that does not apply here Martin Yates has an intuitive sympathy for both composers and I have only one criticism , which results from playing Sarnia on the piano for many years. i.e. that "In a May Morning" is far too slow for such a gossamer piece. Getting to grips with it's deceptive simplicity needs patience and practice - it is after all con moto. with moderato to stop the pianist running away with the wind. Perhaps "Le Catioroc" could do with a more pounding bass, which is how I have always visualised the piece, but otherwise faithful to the original. "Song of the Springtides" is perfect in every way, and a joy to listen to. I envy the students who had the courage to visit Ireland in his windmill at Washington, Sussex - if only.... The second symphony of Moeran should be accepted as a ligitimate opus - such is the structure and careful compilation of Martin Yates that it can be nothing else. Not "Sketches" then, but a work worthy of E.J.Moeran and his illustrious spirit.
I only discovered E.J.Moeran last year when BBC Radio 4 put on an afternoon play based on the last days of his life and radio 3 had him as composer of the week,the same week.What a wonderful discovery and what great pleasure came with it!Martin Yates' realisation,completion and direction of the Sketches for Moeran's 2nd Symphony does more than justice to Moeran, it is brilliant. The Adagietto alone justifies the purchase.Moeran sublime! When, Oh When, are we going to hear more Moeran in the concert hall?This is music that really should have live performance ,a delight for orchestra and audience alike.It should be aired worldwide and not just in Ireland and the UK, it gives so much.
I already have LPs and CDs of Moeran's orchestral music, so I bought the CD of his Second Symphony on spec. It's an interesting piece, which I need to listen to a lot more, but I l like it more and more each time I hear it. The John Ireland fill-ups are good too. Full marks to Dutton-Epoch for issuing records of the by-ways of English music, worthily following in the footsteps of the Ly rita and Chandos labels.
This new recording of music by E J Moeran and John Ireland deserves a very warm welcome and not only from people who love the work of these composers, but from anyone who delights in music that has what one might call an outdoors quality:music that seems to evoke landscape, light, colour and atmosphere.
The main work by Moeran is described as a realisation and completion by Martin Yates, the conductor on this compact disc, of sketches made by the composer between 1939 and 1950 which remained incomplete at the time of his death. The supporting Moeran piece is an orchestration by Rodney Newton of an undated piano work written during the 1930's.
The three movement work by John Ireland is an orchestration by Martin Yates of Ireland's 1940-41 piano suite, "Sarnia".
All three works are beautifully performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, recorded in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in the summer of 2011. The recording engineers, Dexter Newman and Dillon Gallagher, as well as the musicians, deserve special praise because the sound on this disc is rich, full, appropriately resonant and entirely realistic.
As to the music itself all three works are enormously worthwhile and fully deserving of being heard in this way. Of course many aspects of what we hear are speculative and we cannot know if the composers themselves would have sanctioned or even recognised the results. But while the ethics of realisation and orchestration remain problematic, the outcome sounds absolutely right:authentic and idiomatic. It would have been a great pity to have left the Moeran sketches, in particular, unperformed and accordingly available only to researchers. I hope this recording leads to some concert performances of the Second Symphony, it is full of Moeran's wonderful melodies, which are bracing and wistful by turns.
Highly recommended all round and many thanks to Michael J Dutton for facilitating this recording.
The first thing to say about this disc, is that all the works presented here are in one way or another realised or orchestrated by someone other than the composer, and whether you agree with someone else producing the works will inevitably influence your purchase! The Moeran 2nd Symphony is a work long known of in musical legend, it is known to have been worked upon from 1939 up to the composers' death in 1950 with letters pointing to the fact that it was nearly complete on more than one occasion before the doubts of the composer made his shelve the work. All this is explained in detail in the excellent booklet essay by Barry Marsh, which states that Moeran's working score has vanished and all we are left with are sketches from various sources, and that it is these sketches which Martin Yates has collected and edited into a performable work, how much of the music is by Yates is not stated, but Yates does also discuss the process of realising the music into a performable work. All I know is that the resultant work is really enjoyable, Moeran's musical language is written large throughout the Symphony, and until the composers own manuscript appears this CD will more than serve as a stopgap! The other two works presented here are more strait forward, just orchestrations of existing piano scores. Moeran's Overture was originally orchestrated in 1994 by Rodney Newton, although the version performed here is his revised edition from 2011. John Ireland's Sarnia, a series of three piano pieces relating to the Chanel Islands, is a wonderful evocation of some of Ireland's favourite places in the British Isles, and Yates' orchestrations only serve to enhance the music. Indeed, after repeated listening of both the piano and orchestrated versions, I think I prefer the Yates version! Everything about this CD is excellent, with the RSNO giving a wonderful performance under the baton of Yates, the booklet essays should be held up as a model for other companies to follow, and the recorded sound is excellent. This CD is highly recommendable, and even if you don't agree with tinkering with other composer's works, just buy the CD anyway as it will bring hours of enjoyment!
Ever since Deryck Cooke's performing version of Mahler's Symphony No.10, arguments have raged over whether, or how far, it is legitimate to "complete" a composer's unfinished works. Perhaps it all depends on how unfinished those works are. Cooke no doubt had plenty of Mahler to work with. But what about Anthony Payne's "elaboration" of Elgar's Third Symphony where the original fragments seem only to have served as a starting point, and Payne's own creative contribution was considerable? Much the same problem applies to Martin Yates' "realisation and completion" of the Moeran sketches for his Second Symphony. Moeran himself indicated as late as 1948 that the work was fairly close to completion, although he subsequently seems to have had serious doubts about it, and even considered scapping it altogether. Whatever the truth of the matter (a brief account of which is given in Geoffrey Self's biography of the composer) all that could be traced after his death were several pages of sketches which Moeran's wife, the cellist Peers Coetmore, had deposited with the Victorian College of Arts in Melbourne.
It is out of these fragments that Martin Yates has produced a full-blown symphony of almost 35 minutes duration. He admits himself that it is not the symphony that Moeran would have written, but it is constructed entirely out of the sketches that Moeran left behind. As such the music is characteristically Moeran, and adopts his mature style (there are, for example, echoes of the Sinfonietta of 1944). What Yates has given us - with Moeran's help - is a powerful, impassioned work with many recognisable Moeran fingerprints. As in the Symphony in G minor of 1937, the "Second Symphony" opens with a robust, forthright theme, followed by a lush, romantic second subject, and the characteristic gale-like cascade of strings is evident at several points, as is the affirmative coda. It is difficult not to assess the quality of ths work without Moeran's G minor Symphony hovering in the background, and in a sense, anyone who has never heard that work will have the advantage of approaching the present one without prejudice. In any case, should we think that Yates' realisation is not quite up to the standard of the earlier work, we must bear in mind that Moeran himself indicated that his new symphony was intended to be completely different from the G minor. On balance we can be grateful to Yates for making available music by Moeran, fragmentary though it is, which otherwise we would never have had a chance to hear.
The other Moeran work on the disc, the short Overture for a Festival, is also a premiere recording. It apparently dates from the time of the G minor Symphony to which it is closely related musically, but Moeran only got as far as the piano score. It was left to Rodney Newton to orchestrate the work in 1994 (which he revised for this recording). Here there can be no argument that the construction and themes are pure Moeran.
The final work on this CD is by Moeran's teacher at the RCM, John Ireland (1883-1962). "Sarnia: An Island Sequence for Orchestra" is Martin Yates' orchestration of what was originally a three-movement piece for piano solo documenting Ireland's love-affair with the Channel Islands. Although Ireland was a piano miniaturist, some of the textures cry out for orchestration, and Yates' transcription here seems natural, almost as if it is what the composer had always intended.
All in all, this is an intriguing disc. The works are played by a fully-committed Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted, of course, by Martin Yates.
Those of us who have assiduously picked up the Moeran recordings over the years (decades!) and had thought that we now had the complete works will be delighted that Martin Yates has stitched together the sketches of the 2nd Symphony. For years the whereabouts of the manuscript that Jack was known to be working on in his last months in Kenmare had been a mystery. Now rescued from a resource library in Melbourne (of all places) we can now enjoy what might have been the basis for a completed work. It is perhaps inevitable that the work bears witness to the difficulty he was having in originality - there are more than a few echoes from the First symphony and the Sinfonietta - and that his marriage to Peers Coetmore was disastrous on more than one level (although we did get the lovely Cello Concerto as a direct result). Perhaps the most touching part of the 2nd is, for me, the slow movement which is full of nostalgia for the Kerry countryside and the beauty that Moeran found there. If you enjoy British music from the first half of the 20th century and have already discovered Moeran then I can only reccommend this CD for your approval.
As an amateur lover of E. J. Moeran music, I highly recommend these sketches of his unfinished 2nd Symphony. We have here a very enjoyable symphonic work not as complete and rewarding as Moeran's superb Symphony in G minor, but certainly a piece of the most beautiful orchestral modern music and a quite good hint of the wonderful stuff that this ill-fated British composer had in mind for a new large scale symphonic work. At least we can share something of his great inspiration and the marvelous themes he has conceived, as the magnificent symphonist that he was.