By Karl W. Nehring
Anyone who has bothered to take a look at my photo (which was taken a few years back, by the way) has no doubt surmised that I am not a fellow still in the bloom of youth. When it comes to recordings, I sometimes find myself searching my memory to try to recall whether I have once owned this or that symphony or whatever--and yes, I have occasionally brought home an interesting-looking CD only to discover that I already had a copy of it gathering dust on a shelf or in some pile stacked up somewhere in my terminally messy listening room. In the case of this Naxos recording of the Moeran Symphony in G minor, however, I knew for certain that I did not have a duplicate CD tucked away somewhere.
What I remembered was that way back in the day (late 70s/early 80s, when I was in grad school) I once owned an LP version of the Moeran Symphony in G minor and that I had liked it. I believe the record label was Lyrita, although I probably had a Musical Heritage Society version (plain white covers – remember those?) rather than the original Lyrita--I just cannot remember after all this time. I do recall that the disc-mate was the same as on this Naxos release, Moeran's Sinfonietta, which means I must have had the version recorded by Sir Adrian Boult. Over the intervening years, I had never picked up a CD version of the Moeran, but for whatever reason, one day a short while back I suddenly found myself remembering that I had enjoyed the work and deciding to look into picking it up on CD. Further disclosure: I could not even really remember what I had liked about the symphony. I recalled that it was British, that it was pleasant, and that I had not heard it in ages. I seemed to recall that it was rather slow, quiet, dreamy music, and that I had also enjoyed the Sinfonietta, although I could not recall anything about it. When I logged into Amazon and found a used copy of this Lloyd-Jones CD recording available for $0.86, I of course immediately placed my order.
The Sinfonietta is also well worth a listen. Playful and exuberant, it is arranged rather unusually: a theme and six variations are sandwiched between an opening Allegro con brio and a closing Allegro risoluto. Once again, the music is by turns playful and introspective, but always colorful and tuneful.
The recorded sound captured by the eminently reliable engineer Mike Hatch is well-balanced and enjoyable. There is no sense of this being a sonic spectacular, just a well-recorded session of some truly enjoyable orchestral music.
To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below: