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Delius: North Country Sketches, In A Summer Garden, Appalachia


Release Date: 05/07/2009 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 89429   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This 1949 recording (originally on 78s) of North Country Sketches already has appeared on CD in Sony's British Pageant series. The very start of the fourth movement, "The March of Spring", sounded fractionally clipped there, and regrettably it still does in this version, which ultimately offers no perceptible sonic improvements over the earlier release. Nevertheless, Delians will be more than happy to tolerate a minor flaw or two to get their hands on this matchlessly idiomatic performance. This is Beecham at his best; he gets the first section ("Autumn, the wind soughs in the trees") off to a delightfully misty beginning, even though the double bass and bassoon pedal notes don't really come across. Still, you'd be hard Read more put to imagine the desolation and solitude of the Yorkshire moors much better characterized, even though the transfer retains its former ill-defined lower registers, and even flutes and clarinets can have a nasal, hollow quality above mezzo-forte.


However, any sonic shortcomings are amply compensated, and although there's some questionable wind tuning toward the close of "Winter Landscape", Beecham's careful dynamic gradations register well and the lonely feel of the piece is highly palpable. And save for that clipped start, there's also much to enjoy in the closing section where the awkwardly placed cello and violin solos are skillfully managed.


This CD also includes a complete 1952 recording of Appalachia. Beecham probably knew it better than anyone, and after a rather plain, possibly too-relaxed introduction, he portrays all 14 variations with great sensitivity. Delius' vividly impressionistic North Country Sketches is the more attractive work, though, and its relatively poor representation on CD gives this release additional value. If you find that the limited dynamic range and astringency of Sony's reissue leaves too much detailing hidden, consider Chandos' 1995 recording from Richard Hickox and the Bournemouth Symphony. It's an assured and likeable performance, splendidly engineered and adroitly played, but in terms of atmosphere, Beecham is still in a league of his own.
--Michael Jameson, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
North Country Sketches by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913-1914; France 
Date of Recording: 02/14/1949 
2.
In a Summer Garden by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908; France 
Date of Recording: 10/27/1951 
3.
Appalachia - American Rhapsody by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1896; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 1952 

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