Friday, November 09, 2012


Driving back from teaching this afternoon with the car radio tuned automatically to Radio 4, the background speech became the foreground as this afternoon's play slowly drew me in. It was an end of life play. Sometimes, I find this genre buys its emotion cheaply. After all, however happy a life's story is, there is always a sad ending. We do not live for obliteration. But this one, about the last days of a composer, was well crafted and small snatches of exquisite music were used in the transitions between scenes. Was this fiction or based on the life of a real composer whose name I did not recognise?

And here is the joy of the modern, the great gift of technology. I went straight to the internet to discover that this was a real and neglected English composer, though of Irish descent and profoundly influenced by Ireland, E J Moeran. I had never heard of him. Within minutes I was listening to some of his music. Gorgeous. It is unfashionably lyrical for its time, but it doesn't have the sweetness of Finzi. There is complexity, darkness and tension, even as it ravishes. Serendipity sometimes brings gifts - and this is one that will last.

The play is available on iPlayer for the next seven days and here is his short piece, Lonely Waters, from 1931.

And for more, try his Violin Concerto here.


Anton Deque said...

Moeran's work is played now and again, though not as frequently as one might wish, on Radio Three.

Laban said...

His Cello Concerto and Sinfonietta are lovely.

Lots of that 20s and 30s British music is great. Try Warlock's Capriol Suite or Walter Leigh's Concertino for Harpsichord and Strings. The second movement.