In Andrew Achenbach's review of this CD in Gramophone, he mentioned that there have been four previous recordings of this symphony and cited Boult, Heward and Handley although he omitted to mention Dilkes (EMI). I happen to have all four of the recordings mentioned and after some soul searching and rambling, I must declare that I still think the pioneering Heward version is the best.
Lloyd-Jones is not to be discounted though and his is a broad, wide angle view of this truly enigmatic symphony. The opening movement is a rambling Allegro which Jones paces with fine sense of balance and which also espouses the fine qualities of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Lento is similarly beautiful with some haunting sounds of the fen country which was so dear to Moeran's heart. Lloyd Jones is also very positive in this difficult piece and the Boston Symphony Orchestra strings certainly help him as the NPO did for Boult's stunning 1973 Lyrita LP recording, maddeningly no longer available.
The final Lento-Allegro moderato is also judiciously paced by Lloyd-Jones who is most certainly the equal of Handley in this work. Newcomers should not feel short changed at all if they purchase this version. The accompanying Sinfonietta is indeed, a logical pairing and here Lloyd-Jones comes into direct comparison with Norman del Mar's equally fine version on Chandos although Boult's deleted Lyrita recording remains undoubtedly the best version to have.
I enjoyed Lloyd Jones boisterous view of this fine work which is a symphony in all but name with the variations sounding quite mystical and at the same time very humorous. The recording in the Wessex Hall in Dorset is very good indeed and at this price, this is another winner from Lloyd-Jones and the Naxos team in the British music genre.
Copyright © 2002, Gerald Fenech