Classic Record Collector

This Moeran disc would have been the answer to a prayer, had I known this version of the String Trio existed. But first a foray into semantics, as in his note to the Divine Art album Andrew Rose uses the word “plagiarising” to describe Moeran’s procedures in his 1934-7 G minor Symphony. That implies stealing and I must protest that what we have here is influence rather than larceny. Anyone with a vestige of interest in the symphonic literature will spot the godfathers of this marvellous piece, notably Sibelius. I can only say that for me, Moeran’s work hangs together as a convincing entity, and I suspect I listen to it more often that any single Sibelius symphony.

As I indicated, the 1941 recording of the String Trio has eluded me up to now. It is superb and in itself worth the price of the disc. Three of Britain’s top string players, friends who later made a number of trio recordings, come together here to create something that is more that the sum of its parts. Gorgeous string tone, spick and span ensemble, buoyant playing and an excellent recording are supported by a splendid transfer. Oh, and the music is rather beautiful, too. Here is a real find.

To justify the subtitle “The Collected 78rpm recordings” we get three folksong settings sung in a rather effete, woolly way (well, one of then is entitled ‘Sheep Shearing’). Better turn to Heddle Nash’s somewhat mannered but undeniably beautiful singing of two songs which made up one side of a postwar 78rpm disc. Finally, the original recording of the G minor Symphony, conducted by the man who was Boult’s best pupil. Heward should have had the Hallé permanently but succumbed to two forms of consumption (whisky and lungs). Rose has worked on improving the bass response of the recording and it does sound different. I am not sure if I like the final effect, which seems bass-heavy – but why not buy the CD for the lovely Trio and try the new sound of the Symphony for yourself?

—Tully Potter