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Delius: Double Concerto; Violin Concerto / Davis, Little, Watkins, BBC Symphony Orchestra

Delius / Little / Watkins / Bbc Symphony Orchestra
Release Date: 10/25/2011 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 5094   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Frederick Delius
Performer:  Tasmin LittlePaul Watkins
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Spellbinding performances of three concertos of languid beauty.

Those looking for grandiose concertos with mighty perorations and sizzling soloist virtuosity should look elsewhere. This is for committed Delians happy to indulge in another sort of less demonstrative beauty. This concerto music, lyrical and sultry, invites you to step into Delius’s garden of delights for an hour or so on an imaginary warm sultry afternoon; insects and butterflies flitting amongst the flowers nodding in the breeze, birds fluttering and singing, fountains and streams quietly animated - to doze and dream.

Delius’s Double Concerto was premiered on 21 February 1920 with May and Beatrice Harrison (its dedicatees) and the New
Read more Queen’s Hall Orchestra under the baton of Sir Henry Wood. Work had begun on the Concerto in 1915 when Delius was in England - the composer was temporarily exiled from his home in Grez-sur-Loing because of the Great War hostilities. During the composition of the Concerto, Delius had the support and advice of the Harrison sisters.
 
The classical repertory includes surprisingly few concertos for violin and cello. The Brahms work - too infrequently performed - springs to mind and indeed the very first bars of Delius’s lovely Concerto sound quite Brahmsian. Immediately after, however we are in unmistakeable Delius territory. Tasmin Little and Paul Watkins, so sympathetic to Delius’s idiom, blend beautifully in this lovely Concerto of restrained flamboyance, beguiling lyricism and a stateliness at once ageless and then distantly Elgarian. There is one heartfelt idea that recalls something of the American spiritual and Delius’s early Florida experiences.
 
Delius’s Violin Concerto, ‘For Albert Sammons’, followed quickly on the heels of the Double Concerto. It was written in 1916 but its premiere was also delayed by the War until 30 January 1919 with Adrian Boult conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Like the Double Concerto it is cast in one movement. Tasmin Little is a dedicated Delian and has undertaken some interesting research into his life especially the composer’s early days in Florida. She thus brings an especially committed and understanding ‘voice’ to the Violin Concerto. Her reading is heartfelt and how exquisitely she phrases that lovely tender main theme.
 
Delius regarded his Cello Concerto as his personal favourite. It was Beatrice Harrison who persuaded him to write it for her. It was to be the last work he was able to complete in his own hand before that devastating illness overtook him. Beatrice Harrison gave the British premiere in July 1923 and the Concerto was also heard in Vienna and New York in the early 1920s. Delius’s writing for the cello soloist was thought to be too ’difficult’ so much so that Herbert Withers, a renowned cellist of that time effected a few modifications to make it ‘more playable’. For this recording Paul Watkins sought, for the most part, to return to Delius’s writing. Watkins, writing in the album’s booklet notes says, “... the composer suggests very few phrase marks or bowings ....’Play it as you feel it, and I shall be content,’ was the composer’s advice to an early interpreter of the Cello Concerto. I have tried to honour the spirit of these encouraging words.’ This Concerto is very much in the spirit of the other two concertos on this CD and it is distinguished with yet another beguiling broad melody. It ends as Beatrice Harrison suggested in “... the after-glow of the sun sinking ... the stars emerging and fainting away as the moon rises.”
 
Sir Andrew Davis draws captivatingly poetic support from the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
 
Spellbinding performances of three concertos of languid beauty.
 
-- Ian Lace, MusicWeb International  
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Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Violin and Cello by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Tasmin Little (Violin), Paul Watkins (Cello)
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915-1916; England 
2. Concerto for Violin by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Tasmin Little (Violin)
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916; England 
3. Concerto for Cello by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Paul Watkins (Cello)
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; France 

Sound Samples

Double Concerto: Quietly -
Double Concerto: With moderate speed -
Double Concerto: Slowly and quietly -
Double Concerto: Tempo I -
Double Concerto: Very quietly
Violin Concerto: With moderate tempo
Violin Concerto: Slower -
Violin Concerto: [Cadenza] -
Violin Concerto: Tempo I -
Violin Concerto: Allegretto - Piu moderato -
Violin Concerto: Broadly
Cello Concerto: Slow -
Cello Concerto: Meno mosso -
Cello Concerto: Slow -
Cello Concerto: Con moto tranquillo -
Cello Concerto: With animation -
Cello Concerto: Rather slower, very quietly -
Cello Concerto: Quietly

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Rapturous Performance But Poor Recording January 11, 2012 By Jeffrey P. (Pahrump, NV) See All My Reviews "I love Delius and finally we have 3 of his rarely heard concertos on one multi-channel SACD. I listened to this in Chandos' 5.0 speaker surround sound. These are beautifully played by all performers and I would rate the performances 5 stars. Tasmin Little is delicate and sensitive and soaring to great heights when the music calls for it. Paul Watkins plays the cello with similar beauty and sensitivity. The rapport between the two in the violin and cello concerto is rapturous. However, I wish I could say the same for the recording. Normally I love Chandos recordings and have been a fan for over 25 years. Ralph Couzens' recordings of the BBC Symphony done in Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, at Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, and at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and at other large venues are superb! In this recording, the normally superb recording engineer, Ralph Couzens has decided to use a very distant microphone technique (further away than normal) in a very reverberant venue, All Saints' Church, Tooting, London. This venue has been used by Chandos many times before, but this time their microphone placement is too far from the orchestra. (I have the same problem with their recordings of the Choir of St John's College Cambridge, done by a different recording engineer, the mics are too far from the choir.) In this recording Tasmin Little sounds like she is in front of the orchestra, but the orchestra sounds too far away in the background and the winds sound so far away its ridicules. One gets the perspective that one is sitting in the tenth row from the soloist but the orchestra is about 25 feet further behind the soloist. This distance masks orchestra detail and location. Also, the center and rear channels are used for reverberation only but strangely there is hardly anything coming out of them, especially the rear ones. I've heard much better Multi-channel SACD recordings of orchestras done in large churches before, like Alia Vox label's SACD of Mozart's Serenate Notturne, K. 239, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525, etc. recorded at the Collégiale du Château de Cardona (Mozart: Serenate Notturne, K. 239; Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525 [Hybrid SACD]). Also I have heard better 2 channel recordings done in large churches like Karajan's Beethoven Symphonies recorded at the Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin from 1962 for instance (Beethoven: The Symphonies); the trick is proper microphone placement. So, in the end I was disappointed with this SACD, due to the poor recording technique used. But I'm still glad to have recordings of these rare atmospheric masterpieces.

A final criticism: This SACD came in a regular CD case. Chandos, like many other classical SACD makers are no longer using the Super Audio CD case that has the nice rounded edges. When I buy a Super Audio CD and pay the extra money, I like to feel like I'm getting something special, and the Super Audio CD case does that for me. So, shame on Chandos for abandoning the Super Audio CD case and bravo to BIS for continuing to issue SACD in the Super Audio CD cases. "
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