Vernon Handley

Morean: Rhapsodies Nos.1 & 2; In the Mountain Country; etc.

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For those of you who love the music of E.J. Moeran, who love his bucolic harmonies and his rustic rhythms and his pastoral and passionate melodies, this is the disc for you. Although Moeran's lone symphony has been relatively well represented in recordings, his other orchestral works have been less often issued. This 1988 disc by Vernon Handley and the Ulster Orchestra brings together five of the less often issued Moeran works for orchestra: the two Rhapsodies, the Serenade in G, the symphonic impression In the Mountain Country, and the Nocturne for baritone, chorus and orchestra. Although they lack the breadth of his Symphony in G minor, Moeran's Rhapsodies are more immediately attractive in their rhythmic energy and their resplendent colors. What the Serenade lacks in symphonic power it more than makes up for with its intimate lyricism and what In the Mountain Country lacks in structural cogency it more than makes up for with its evocative expressivity. But the real find on this disc is Moeran's Nocturne: a deeply nostalgic and deeply affecting Tombeau pour Delius filled with all the sensual sentimentally of the syphilitic master. Handley stirs a course between sensitivity and sappiness and the Ulster Orchestra plays with rough enthusiasm. Chandos' early digital sound seems warmer in this reissue.

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