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Leslie Heward Conducts Moeran & Ireland / Eileen Joyce

Moeran / Ireland / Joyce,Eileen / Heward
Release Date: 12/13/2011 
Label:  Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog #: 9807   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ernest John MoeranJohn Ireland
Performer:  Eileen Joyce
Conductor:  Leslie Heward
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MOERAN Symphony in g. IRELAND Piano Concerto in E? Leslie Heward, cond; Eileen Joyce (pn); Hallé O DUTTON 9807 (66:06)

This is actually a rerelease of rereleases, a CD that Dutton first issued in the early 1990s. It’s good to have it back in circulation, if in part for the sense of occasion. When Moeran’s Symphony was recorded in 1942, it was only five years old, and Ireland’s Piano Concerto, 14. Both were premieres. Moeran was also present for the Read more recording of his work, at least for a while—as his polite, well-intentioned but frequent interference caused HMV to find reasons to exclude him from its later sessions.

And the Moeran is a compelling account. The Symphony has been recorded several times since then—by Dilkes, Boult, Handley, and Lloyd-Jones—but none of these succeeding versions have possessed the passionate sweep of the original. Handley catches the Sibelian character in the slow movement perhaps best of all among the rest, but it’s Leslie Heward’s brooding account, with its extraordinary attention to dynamics and shifting instrumental sonorities, that remains in the mind and ear long after listening. I prefer the almost chamber-like clarity Lloyd-Jones (Naxos 8.555837) brings to the scherzo—the episode with the trumpets over pizzicato strings at 2:30 is deliciously delineated—but the other three movements have never been equaled for Heward’s intensity.

The Ireland recorded in the same year isn’t as successful, a generally lesser affair, studio-bound and uptight. Eileen Joyce is more informal, freer in the live account under Boult’s baton in the live 1949 broadcast (LPO 0041). The LPO picks up more on the sharp, Prokofiev edge to the first movement. The slow movement is good under Heward, better paced, with Joyce’s rich, varied tone and expansive manner put to excellent use, but the finale once again has more variety, detail, and high spirits in the live version.

I’ve not heard any other transfers of these two recordings, but Dutton sacrifices a bit more treble for a clean top than I would have preferred. Joyce in particular seems muted in Heward’s HMV release; and if the live broadcast suffers from some ineptly removed surface tics, there’s also a palpably roomier ambience to the proceedings. Still and all, this album is treasurable, a document both of what Heward achieved, and of might-have-beens.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal


British conductor Leslie Heward died of tuberculosis just a few months after these 1942 recordings were issued in January of 1943. It was a serious loss: Heward was a major talent, as these Walter Legge productions clearly demonstrate. Made in the midst of war, with Manchester’s Free Trade Hall already destroyed, they were a heroic endeavor. That the orchestra played so well is a testament both to Heward and to the fortitude of the ensemble in straightened circumstances.

The performance of Moeran’s gorgeous symphony is powerful, atmospheric, and while technically limited in dynamics and frequency range, recorded with remarkable clarity and balance. Only the finale’s brooding gloom comes across as a bit muddy, but those scurrying string episodes in the opening movement are thrilling, and the Lento’s lyrical effulgence has a tension and intensity that scarcely lets up. In 1942 the symphony was only a few years old. Moeran was supposedly on hand for these sessions and had to be told to get lost and let the artists do their job. They certainly did that.

The Ireland is just as fine. Eileen Joyce plays with spirit in the quick passages, and with a wonderful dreaminess that never turns to mush in the many lyrical episodes. Once again the sonics, though limited, are very true in this transfer and don’t get in the way of the interpretation. It’s interesting that the second subject in Moeran’s finale sounds as if based on the second subject of Ireland’s, which was composed a few years earlier. Certainly the two works come from the same sound world. These recorded premieres aren’t just historical–they are still very enjoyable.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday. com Read less

Works on This Recording

Symphony in G minor by Ernest John Moeran
Conductor:  Leslie Heward
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Written: 1924-37 
Venue:  Houldsworth Hall, Manchester, England 
Concerto for Piano in E flat major by John Ireland
Performer:  Eileen Joyce (Piano)
Conductor:  Leslie Heward
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; England 
Date of Recording: 01/14/1942 
Venue:  Houldsworth Hall, Manchester, England 

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