Moeran: Rhapsody No. 2; Violin Concerto; Rhapsody in F sharp
If you are looking for one and only one disc of the orchestral music of English modernist E.J. Moeran, get Adrian Boult's recording of his one and only symphony -- a powerful four-movement work nearly in the same league as the symphonies of Vaughan Williams, Walton, and Tippet. If you are looking for a second disc of Moeran's orchestral music, get this disc. It starts with an atmospheric performance of the "Rhapsody No. 2" by Boult and the London Philharmonic, ends with an affecting performance of the "Rhapsody in F sharp for piano and orchestra" by pianist John McCabe with Nicholas Braithwaite and the New Philharmonic Orchestra, and features as its centerpiece the finest recording of the "Violin Concerto" of the past 50 years. Not that there is a lot of competition for that honor -- only Lydia Mordkovitch has so far subsequently recorded the work -- but still, this performance by violinist John Georgiadis with Vernon Handley leading the London Symphony is far deeper, far more dedicated, and much more convincing. Because while Mordkovitch is a fine player doing the best she can with a work she doesn't seem to have much sympathy for, Georgiadis is an equally fine player who does better than the best he can because he loves the work with an all-consuming love. Listen just to his performance of the closing Lento -- there's love in the air and heartrending beauty in every note. And while the doughty Vernon Handley is the conductor in both performances, it has to be acknowledged that the London Symphony Orchestra here is a much more polished and persuasive ensemble than the Ulster Orchestra there. And it must further be added that Lyrita's late stereo sound here is richer, warmer, clearer, and more realistic than Chandos' early digital sound there.