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Delius: Piano Concerto, Paris / Shelley, Davis, Royal Scottish NO

Release Date: 10/30/2012 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 10742   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Frederick Delius
Performer:  Howard Shelley
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

An enchanting addition to the Delius discography.

Straight to one of my favourite Delius works – Paris; and in Chandos’s brilliant finery, how glorious it sounds. Initially, I was taken aback by what I felt was an altogether too brisk, too business-like view that Davis’s new recording of this Beecham revised and edited version presented. However, on repeated hearings I began to warm to its energy, color, warmth and opulence. By the way, the album notes give no explanation of the whys and wherefores of Beecham’s revision.
Delius’s vision vividly conjures up: hedonistic pleasures under garish lights, grisettes and their partners of the night dancing in gay abandonment, so much joy to be
Read more crowded in before dawn’s reality breaks through; all these high spirits contrasted with tender romantic moments in quiet places. Davis’s opening evocation impresses, deep down in the orchestra, quiet as evening falls before a thousand lights twinkle and the City noisily awakens to pleasure.
Delius’s piano concerto was written in the grand Late-Romantic tradition and its lyricism is greatly influenced by Grieg, who had befriended the young Delius. Its more bravura passages owe something to Liszt.
Delius had completed the score of a one-movement Fantasy for piano and orchestra as early as 1897. Early sketches were written in Florida. This material was subsequently developed into the three-movement Piano Concerto that was premiered in 1904. Delius subsequently reverted to his original one-movement format, the form in which the Concerto is usually heard - after Delius, two years on from its 1904 premiere, removed its third movement later to incorporate some of its material, more effectively, in his Violin Concerto of 1916. More minor revisions, approved and applauded by Delius, came later. The version we hear most often today is that edited by Sir Thomas Beecham.
In addition to Grieg’s lyrical influence, the first movement has a grand sweep with passion and defiance as well as tender romanticism. The customary Delian fingerprints are evident too in its pastoral dreaming. The Largo slow movement is deeply felt, its limpid beauty nicely realized by Howard Shelley and Davis. Again the composer’s familiar figures are recognizable: his individualistic dance rhythms and those distant horn calls and figures associated with those distant high vistas Delius loved so much. Grouchy lower strings launch the third movement that mixes bombast, reverie and tenderness.
Delius’s English Rhapsody, Brigg Fair, is a set of variations on a Lincolnshire folk tune. The work takes the form of a set of 17 clearly defined variations on the folksong, gathering momentum to reach a climax shortly before the end. Davis’s glowing reading of Delius’s lovely, hazy-summer, pastoral evocation is set on a Chandos sound-stage of wide perspectives. Davis spins together the variations, beautifully dovetailing them, silkily integrated them through diverse moods ranging from quiet serenity to the great central climax that is such a great unrestrained outpouring of pastoral joy.
The little-known Idylle de Printemps was never performed during Delius’s lifetime. It had to wait until 1995 before it was given its premiere. The influence of Grieg is very clear. It is constructed around its endearing oboe theme. This is a charming little gem that ought to be far better known and in Davis’s reading, it enchants.
Containing much lesser-known music this is an enchanting addition to the Delius discography.
-- Ian Lace, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Brigg Fair - An English Rhapsody by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; France 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, RSNO Centre, Glasgow 
Length: 4 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Concerto for Piano in C minor by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Howard Shelley (Piano)
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1897/1906; France 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, RSNO Centre, Glasgow 
Length: 18 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Idylle de Printemps by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1889; France 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, RSNO Centre, Glasgow 
Length: 10 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Paris - Song of a Great City by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899; France 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, RSNO Centre, Glasgow 
Length: 3 Minutes 44 Secs. 

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