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A Delius Collection Of Rare Historic Recordings

Release Date: 06/12/2012 
Label:  Danacord   Catalog #: 717  
Composer:  Frederick Delius
Performer:  Joan StuartGordon WatsonHeddle NashGerald Moore,   ... 
Conductor:  Anthony CollinsConstant LambertSidney BeerSir John Barbirolli,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony OrchestraHallé OrchestraBoyd Neel String Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This CD presents an excellent range of rare historic Delius recordings played by a diverse range of conductors, orchestras and performers. I hold my hand up and admit that I am not a big fan of ‘historical’ CDs, preferring something newly minted with near-perfect sound quality. However, I do recognise the importance of retaining earlier performances in the catalogue for reference purposes. And very often one of these ‘blasts from the past’ can hit the spot. Several pieces in this compilation meet this expectation.
The first thing
Read more to notice about this collection is that Sir Thomas Beecham is not represented. To be fair, many of that conductor’s recordings of Delius are easily available on Naxos, Somm and Sony. For example, there are at least half a dozen currently available recordings of Beecham conducting On hearing the first Cuckoo in Spring. So it is good to explore other artists’ work which languishes in the archives.
There is a great diversity of music on this CD varying from such well-known numbers as La Calinda, A Song of Summer and the above mentioned First Cuckoo. But this is only part of the programme. There are some relative rarities here too. For example the songs ‘The Violet’ and ‘Sweet Venevil’ with the soprano Joan Stuart and the pianist Gordon Watson are not a regular feature of CDs or recitals. Evlyn Howard-Jones who was Delius’s favourite interpreter of his Piano Concerto plays an excellent version of the rarely heard Three Preludes for piano. This recording is the oldest on this CD dating from 1929. Equally unusual is the Légende for violin and piano performed by the Danish violinist Henry Holst accompanied by Gerald Moore in 1942. It was the first recording of this piece.
I am not too sure how satisfying Maggie Teyte’s rendition of ‘Indian Love Song’ or Isobel Baillie singing ‘Love’s Philosophy’ will be to modern ears. However, one has to allow for changes in style of singing English song and the limitations of the recordings. However I was impressed by Heddle Nash’s rendition of ‘To the Queen of my Heart’ dating from 1934. Anthony Pini and Wilfred Parry present an interesting version of the rarely heard ‘Caprice and Elegy’. This was another of Fenby’s collaborations with the composer and was written for the English cellist Beatrice Harrison. It is a work that is perhaps a little darker than the usual Delius fare.
The big orchestral pieces include a particularly beautiful version of The Walk to the Paradise Gardens with Eugene Goossens conducting the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra dating from 1946. It is one of the best I have ever heard. Anthony Collins’ reading of On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring is an old favourite: I guess it is the same version as used on the old Decca Eclipse LP. This was my introduction to Delius and remains for me a definitive performance. The Hallé under Sir John Barbirolli give a landmark performance of A Song of Summer. This piece which was completed with the aid of Eric Fenby was inspired by memories of the Yorkshire coast. It is a near-perfect account of this impressionistic work. Equally attractive are the Two Aquarelles which are deliciously sensuous arrangements for string orchestra of the part-songs ‘To be sung of a summer night’. The first, in particular, is one of the most moving pieces that the composer wrote.
The opening piece on this CD is Constant Lambert and the Hallé Orchestra with a wartime recording of La Calinda. It is a pleasure and a joy to hear.
Finally I was not convinced by Sidney Beer’s reading of the Irmelin Prelude with the National Symphony Orchestra. For me it is a little to sharply focused and hard-edged.
The presentation of this CD is excellent, the liner notes are first-rate and the quality of the sound, bearing in mind the limitations of historical recordings is very good indeed.
This is an outstanding disc that will be an important and essential addition to the collections of all Delius cognoscenti. Whatever’s one’s thoughts are about ‘historical recordings’ this is a valuable document reflecting a number of fine artists.
-- John France, MusicWeb International  Read less

Works on This Recording

The Violet by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Joan Stuart (Soprano), Gordon Watson (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1900; France 
Date of Recording: 1955 
Songs (7) from the Norwegian: no 4, Sweet Venevil by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Joan Stuart (Soprano), Gordon Watson (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889-1890; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 1955 
Songs (3): no 3, To the Queen of my Heart by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Heddle Nash (Tenor), Gerald Moore (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1891 
Date of Recording: 12/7/1934 
Songs (3): no 2, Love's Philosophy by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Isobel Baillie (Soprano), Gerald Moore (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1891 
Date of Recording: 5/31/1945 
Preludes (3) for Piano by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Evlyn Howard-Jones (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; France 
Date of Recording: 4/4/1929 
Pieces (2) for Small Orchestra: no 1, On Hearing the First Cuckoo by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Anthony Collins
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912; France 
Date of Recording: 2/1953 
Légende for Violin and Orchestra by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Henry Holst (Violin), Gerald Moore (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1895; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 8/7/1942 
Koanga: La Calinda by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Constant Lambert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1895-1897; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 7/30/1941 
Irmelin: Prelude by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sidney Beer
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890-1892; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 6/8/1944 
English Songs (3): no 1, Indian Love Song by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Maggie Teyte (Soprano), Rita Mackay (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1891; Paris, France 
Caprice and Elegy for Cello and Orchestra by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Anthony Pini (Cello), Wilfrid Parry (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; France 
Date of Recording: 1955 
Aquarelles (2) by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; France 
Date of Recording: 4/1/1948 
Air and Dance by Frederick Delius
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boyd Neel String Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; France 
Date of Recording: 10/20/1938 
A Village Romeo and Juliet: Walk to the Paradise Garden by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1900-1901; France 
Date of Recording: 2/14/1946 
A Song of Summer by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929-1930; France 
Date of Recording: 2/2/1950 

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