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Brian Wigman
Classical Net, April 2015

…the Concerto [is] simply lovely, with the tunes spun in a very beguiling way. I’ve not heard any other version of the piece, but Guy Johnston is at once commanding and enchanting as a soloist. JoAnn Falletta is a master conductor, and she provides a highly satisfying accompaniment. The Ulster Orchestra plays this music better than anyone else on disc and Naxos captures them in warm and realistic sound. © 2015 Classical Net Read complete review

Colin Anderson, January 2014

Whether in Buffalo, Ulster or Virginia, her permanent centres of excellence, JoAnn Falletta has been enterprising in choosing a wide range of interesting repertoire. With the Ulster Orchestra…they first came together in terms of recording with a Naxos disc of Gustav Holst’s music…Now, here is an equally impressive release of pieces by Ernest John Moeran.

The performances are splendid in their appreciation and affection for Moeran’s music and the recording is excellent. Well worth a punt! © 2014 Read complete review

Barnaby Rayfield
Fanfare, November 2013

Lonely Waters…is the most interesting piece here, cleverly developing a Norfolk-based folksong in the orchestra for five whole minutes before introducing the text. There’s a brief but lovely contribution from Rebekah Coffey, whose folksy and direct voice is ideal…

None of Moeran’s writing is less than pretty, and at his best, like his madrigal-inspired Whythorne’s Shadow, there is charm and craftsmanship in equal measure. Sound is excellent, with both warmth and definition to the playing. There is certainly nothing wrong with the performances here, with JoAnn Falletta pacing them beautifully and getting some real polish from her Ulster forces…it really is a worthy addition to Naxos’s ongoing Moeran series… © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

John Quinn
MusicWeb International, October 2013

Guy Johnston gives a very fine performance [of the Cello Concerto]…He displays beautiful tone and a fine sense of line in the many lyrical stretches of the first movement and that whets the listener’s appetite for the slow movement. This is a lovely piece, the heart of the concerto. Essentially it’s a nostalgic and songful reverie and Johnston catches the mood to perfection in an eloquent and sensitive reading in which he’s expertly accompanied by the Ulster players. The present performance is thoroughly engaging and the lyrical digressions along the way are done with fine feeling…

…Ms Falletta and her orchestra…give the Serenade in its original eight-movement version…the Serenade is really a set of light music miniatures, albeit very well crafted and thoroughly attractive ones. The work is deftly played and the performance is most enjoyable.

Lonely Waters is an atmospheric and, for the most part, delicate little tone painting. Rebekah Coffey sings the little solo very nicely.

Whythorne’s Shadow…[is] a modest composition, lightly scored, which makes for very pleasant listening.

This is an attractive Moeran anthology. The performances are consistently excellent and Moeran enthusiasts should not hesitate. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Gary Lemco
Audiophile Audition, June 2013

The Cello Concerto (1945) premiered in Dublin and reflects the composer’s late style, an eclectic romanticism influenced by Moeran’s own marriage to Irish cellist Piers Coetmore. The first movement Moderato has Guy Johnston’s weaving a continuous melody that proves through-composed, influencing all subsequent developments. The baleful second theme smacks of Elgar, more of the Violin Concerto than that composer’s own Cello Concerto. Still, the lyrical outpouring proves quite attractive and bucolic, until the music assumes a decidedly aggressive cast rife with quick variations on the original tune. Johnston plays a lovely 1714 David Tacchier instrument with a generous singing tone. The melancholy tone resumes, with the cello, horns and tympani (and a touch of harp) all fading into a cloudy distance. © 2013 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

David Hurwitz, June 2013

Guy Johnston’s playing here is as fine as in any version yet recorded; and with tempos marginally fleeter than the competition on Chandos, this version may well become the reference recording for the work. Credit for that certainly goes equally to JoAnn Falletta, who also offers the scintillating neo-classical Serenade in its original version containing eight movements instead of the usual six.

Excellent, well-balanced engineering completes this wholly recommendable release. © Read complete review

Nick Barnard
MusicWeb International, June 2013

…I’m pleased to say that this is a very impressive disc. Moeran’s is an elusive idiom; played too sentimentally the dark undertow is missed and played too neo-classically the sense of pained pastoral rapture is lost. One cannot imagine that conductor JoAnn Falletta has had many opportunities to programme Moeran during her various tenures in the USA so all the more credit to her for finding just the right ‘touch’ so impressively in the bulk of the music offered.

To my ear cellist Guy Johnston is the most impressive of the three players to have recorded the principal work.

…I hope that Falletta is encouraged to investigate the rest of Moeran’s fairly modest orchestral output. Certainly a new version of the Violin Concerto would be most welcome. …this is a good place for a Moeran newcomer to start a collection and a compulsory purchase for all other acolytes. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review

John Warrack
International Record Review, June 2013

The most substantial work is…the Concerto…It is an attractive work, very sensitively played here by Guy Johnston, and accompanied by JoAnn Falletta with an excellent ear for Moeran’s beautiful orchestration…Moeran has a fine ear for the delicate instrumentation that he commanded, and which is here faithfully reproduced by the recording engineers. This is an interesting recording of a figure who well deserves the present revival of interest in him. © 2013 International Record Review

Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, June 2013

Anglo-Irish composer Ernest John Moeran…is represented by some of his finest works in this commendable new CD program with American JoAnn Falletta conducting an excellent Ulster Orchestra. The Cello Concerto…is one of his best. The cello melodies, eloquently phrased by soloist Guy Johnston, are spontaneous and flowing, while the orchestration is characterized by its transparency and restraint, allowing the cello to be heard distinctly at all times. © 2013 Audio Video Club of Atlanta Read complete review

Andrew Achenbach
Gramophone, June 2013

Guy Johnston responds with heaps of poetry and selfless dedication, his manner softer-spoken than that of Raphael Wallfisch on his urgently communicative Chandos version with Norman Del Mar (9/86), and with none of the technical shortcomings that tarnish Coetmore’s otherwise deeply affecting Lyrita account with Boult and the LPO (7/70). © 2013 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone, May 2013

Naxos’ new CD features a warm, singing rendition of the Cello Concerto of 1945, with lovely playing by Guy Johnston and excellent support from the Ulster Orchestra under JoAnn Falletta…Moeran was deemed rather old-fashioned in his time because of his folk-music interests and some superficial musical parallels to Delius, Ireland and Vaughan Williams, but his music bears re-hearing and reconsideration for its fine structure and warmly lyrical qualities—which Falletta’s performances fully explore. © 2013 Read complete review

Calum MacDonald
BBC Music Magazine, May 2013

In Guy Johnston[,] [the Cello Concerto] has a soloist entirely sensitive to its swift and sometimes paradoxical changes of mood: this is an effective performance of a little-heard and underrated work.

The Ulster Orchestra is in fine form, and JoAnn Falletta seems to have the measure of Moeran’s elusive and eclectic idiom. © 2013 BBC Music Magazine

James Manheim, May 2013

Give props first of all to American conductor JoAnn Falletta, who here masters works outside her American music specialty, several of them fairly complex. None of the works by English-Irish composer EJ Moeran this Naxos release is a world premiere, but none is exactly common. All were worth a new recording, and Falletta has sculpted convincing interpretations of each one. The four works call for slightly different modes of expression in each case, and Falletta and the Ulster Orchestra adjust generally very well…it’s recommended for those interested in British music from the first half of the 20th century. © 2013 Read complete review

Chris Bye
The British Music Society, May 2013

In this very welcome release Guy Johnston (cellist) and the well-disciplined Ulster players prove to be great Moeran ambassadors by giving a convincing delivery of one of the composer’s most important achievements. ...this new accomplished release boasts excellent cello playing with slickly articulated orchestral backing. It also bears the distinctive advantage of crisp up-to-the-minute technology (the impactful recording was made at Ulster Hall, Belfast, 2012).

The meditative Adagio is typical Moeran. A plaintive mood is emphasised by stunning orchestral outbursts. Mr Johnston combines well with Ms Falletta in an ecstatic finale. This is a potent mix of soloist and orchestra and revels delightfully in the sure-found spirit of Irish folklore. Searing melodies and harmonies expose the bricks-and-cement of Moeran’s engaging style.

JoAnne Falletta and her well-disciplined Ulster players give two little Moeran orchestral gems a glinting, fresh polish. In the bleak but enchanting Lonely Waters, soprano Rebekah Coffey contributes. The stout, historic and tuneful Whythorne’s Shadow, reflects a warm-hearted Elizabethan oeuvre. Ms Falletta and the Ulster Orchestra reach well beyond Moeran’s now sad, overgrown grave.

This version of the Cello Concerto is a prime work in all great musical literature. Here is a sublime reading which will whet the appetite for more Moeran. It is a superb budget-price CD which provides more proof of a very rich and exceptional musical Moeran pudding. Taste it. Bon appetit! © The British Music Society

Norman Lebrecht
La Scena Musicale, April 2013

Ernest Moeran’s post-war concerto of 1945 is reminiscent all too frequently of Elgar’s, replacing its emotional wrench with gentle nostalgia. Guy Johnston gives a lovely, lyrical account. The Ulster Orchestra append Moeran’s Merrie England Serenade in G. © 2013  La Scena Musicale

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2013

In the present resurgence of British music, Ernest Moeran is still the most unjustly neglected, this excellent disc certainly helpful in reminding us of his worth. Born in Ireland, but brought up and educated in England, his service in the First World War not only physically and mentally scarred him, but it also robbed him of his younger years. He was thus very late beginning his intended life as a composer, and having belatedly studied with John Ireland, he was almost thirty before significant works appeared. From therein he was to write in all musical forms, with the exception of opera and cantata, most of his works coming in the form of pastoral scores. Left to our care is a fine symphony and concertos for both violin and orchestra, the present disc offering the Cello Concerto played by Guy Johnston, who I regard as the finest British cellist of his generation. Having listened to every recorded version, I would, without reservation, describe this as by far the finest account on disc. Technically immaculate, and with intonation that is spotlessly clean, he brings the full quota of joy to the finale, his 1714 Tecchler cello singing eloquently throughout. Under their new American principal conductor, JoAnn Falletta, the Ulster orchestra are also in sparkling form through the remainder of the disc. The Serenade has become one of his better known works, though the two movements removed when the score was published score are here restored, the original composition recorded for the first time. It not only adds eight minutes but brings a greater musical substance. Two works suited to a chamber orchestra, end the disc, the short tone poem, Lonely Waters, based on a Norfolk folk-song and here given in its original form with a folk-singer intoning the original song. Excellent performances, beautifully recorded, and ardently recommended. © David’s Review Corner

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