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Delius: Songs / Yvonne Kenny, Piers Lane


Release Date: 04/10/2007 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67594   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne KennyPiers Lane
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



DELIUS Songs from the Norwegian. Danish Songs: In the Seraglio Garden. Irmelin Rose. Summer Nights. 2 mélodies. Songs from the Norwegian: Summer Eve. Longing. Sunset. Old English Songs: So white, so soft, so sweet is she. To Daffodils. Shelley Songs: Love’s Philosophy. La lune blanche. Chanson d’automne. The nightingale has a lyre of gold. I-Brasil. Summer Landscape. O schneller, mein Ross. Aus deinen Augen Fiessen Read more meine Lieder Yvonne Kenny (sop); Piers Lane (pn) HYPERION 67594 (62:09 Text and Translation)


Many listeners think of Frederick Delius as the composer of exquisite miniatures with evocative titles such as On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring and In a Summer Garden . Of course, he was much more than that; in addition to six operas, he also wrote a number of full-scale works for large orchestra, often with chorus and soloists; these include Sea Drift , which may well be his greatest work, A Mass of Life (after Nietzsche), and Songs of Sunset . Among his purely orchestral works, Paris and Appalachia (with final chorus) certainly deserve wider renown than they have won outside Britain.


Delius’s 60-odd songs, of which Australian-born veteran Yvonne Kenny sings 25 here, are for the most part, however, exquisite miniatures. Delius’s influences, reflected in his choice of texts, show his love for the north countries: Scotland and Ireland, and especially Scandinavia; he was particularly fond of Norway. Many of these songs are settings of Scandinavian poets such as Ludvig Holstein, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, and Jens Peter Jacobsen; the texts were translated both into English—by various writers including Peter Warlock ( nom de plume of composer Philip Heseltine)—and simultaneously into German by Delius’s German wife Jelka, so it is not always easy to know which is the “right” language for a particular song. In 1970, Oxford University Press published a collection of 19 songs with English words mostly by Peter Pears. Kenny uses English texts, except for French and German originals reflected in the headnote. Several songs are recorded here for the first time.


Kenny’s voice is still attractive and well controlled (her high pianissimo is gorgeous), but perhaps a bit ripe especially for some of the almost ingenuous earlier songs; but here I may be betraying my having been conditioned by the recordings made by Sir Thomas Beecham, Delius’s most effective advocate, with sopranos Dora Labbette and, later, Elsie Suddaby. Beecham seemed to favor light, almost colorless voices in this music. If I have any complaint about Kenny’s singing, it is that she does very little to express the sentiment of the text; her sound remains fairly constant throughout the recital. In any event, however, I find that practically all the alternative versions are currently unavailable. A collection of 18 songs on Koch by Ruth Golden is no great loss: not only is there much overlap between the two programs, but Golden’s voice is not in the same league as Kenny’s. The collections worth hunting for are a Chandos disc of Elgar and Delius by Benjamin Luxon at his most charming, and especially two collections on Unicorn-Kanchana: a disc featuring Felicity Lott, Sarah Walker, and Anthony Rolfe Johnson—all right on the money—with no less than Eric Fenby at the piano (I have this on LP; I’m not sure whether it was available on CD); and, a CD by the same performers, but this one featuring nine songs with orchestral accompaniment (Fenby conducting), coupled with Fenby’s recording of The Song of the High Hills . These singers bring out the mixed feelings of Twilight Fancies (also known in a different translation as Evening Voices ), the playfulness of Young Venevil , the ardor of Love’s Philosophy (although not to the extent of Heddle Nash’s version in the 1934 Delius Society 78-rpm set), and the haunting wistfulness of I-Brasil , perhaps Delius’s most memorable song, with tenor Rolfe Johnson movingly evoking the paradise of Irish folklore, all more effectively than Kenny’s underinflected readings.


Kenny’s voice and Lane’s accompaniments are well recorded, very lifelike without being too close, and the annotations by Stephen Lloyd are well done; texts are given, along with English translations for the French and German songs. Not the most beautiful Delius song recital ever, but the best available right now, and therefore recommended to admirers of his music and to Lieder collectors willing to stray a bit from the beaten path.


FANFARE: Richard A. Kaplan
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Works on This Recording

1.
Songs (7) from the Norwegian by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889-1890; Paris, France 
2.
Danish Songs (7): no 5, Irmelin Rose by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1896-1897; France 
3.
Danish Songs (7): no 6, In the Seraglio Garden by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1896-1897; France 
4.
Songs (2): no 1, Il pleure dans mon coeur by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1895; Paris, France 
5.
Songs (2): no 2, Le ciel est, par-dessus le toit by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1895; Paris, France 
6.
La lune blanche by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; France 
7.
Chanson d'automne by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; France 
8.
Songs (5) from the Norwegian: no 3, Summer Eve by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; England 
9.
Songs (5) from the Norwegian: no 4, Longing by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; England 
10.
Songs (5) from the Norwegian: no 5, Sunset by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; England 
11.
The nightingale has a lyre of gold by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; France 
12.
I-Brasîl by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913 
13.
Summer landscape by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1902; France 
14.
O schneller, mein Ross by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1888 
15.
Songs (4): no 4, Aus deinen Augen by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890-1891 
16.
Old English Lyrics (4): no 2, So white, so soft, so sweet is she by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915-1916 
17.
Songs (3): no 2, Love's Philosophy by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1891 
18.
Old English Lyrics (4): no 4, To Daffodils by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915-1916 
19.
Danish Songs (7): no 1, Summer Nights by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Yvonne Kenny (Soprano), Piers Lane (Piano)

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