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Delius: American Masterworks / Holten, Aarhus Symphony Orchestra

Delius / Holten
Release Date: 04/09/2013 
Label:  Danacord   Catalog #: 732   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Frederick Delius
Performer:  Johan ReuterHenriette Bonde-HansenSimon Duus
Conductor:  Bo Holten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aarhus Symphony OrchestraAarhus Cathedral ChoirAarhus Symphony Orchestra Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



DELIUS Koanga : Excerpts (arr. Holten) 1. Appalachia 2. Sea Drift 3 Bo Holten, cond; 1 Henriette Bonde-Hansen (sop); 1,2,3 Johan Reuter (bar); 1 Simon Duus (bar); 2,3 Read more class="ARIAL12">Aarhus Cathedral Ch; 2,3 Aarhus SO Ch; Aarhus SO DANACORD 732 (78:26)


The jacket proclaims “Final release in the recordings of Bo Holten Delius Masterworks,” a series—with one CD each devoted to works evocative of Denmark, Norway, France, England (see Richard A. Kaplan’s review in Fanfare 36:1), and, now, America—through which Holten has made Delius his own. One would have to go back to Eric Fenby’s 1980s Unicorn-Kanchana seven-disc conspectus for anything like it. Each of the previous albums offered substantial orchestral works enclosing song sets. For the latter, Holten’s lavish, but never de trop , orchestrations provide a sensuous shimmer against which Henriette Bonde-Hansen’s amber, mezzo-like lower register flares into radiance up the scale. Where Delius set Danish and Norwegian poets to German translations, Holten’s arrangements discreetly join them to the original poems, to a salubrious upshot.


Similarly, for the present offering, Holten abridges the second half of Koanga ’s act II, compressing the wedding festivities, Palmyra’s abduction, and Koanga’s vengeful invocation of his voodoo gods. Absent choral parts are given to a brass complement, in La Calinda to startling effect. Bonde-Hansen and Johan Reuter turn in nominally strong performances, though they pale before those of the still available 1973 Charles Groves-led complete Koanga with Claudia Lindsey and Eugene Holmes, whose dark rich voices make a more persuasive case for the stilted libretto. Holten’s experiment does, at least, provide a concert version of the opera’s salient moments.


Holten gives Appalachia over to sensuous lingering, a tack similar to the late, great Richard Hickox’s tilt with the RPO, though the latter bests Holten both in closer, more detailed sound, and in the exquisite balance with which Delius’s melodic profusion is articulately layered. Chez Holten, Delius’s polyphony affords an occasional mêlée, while some orchestral parts slip into recess. For Sea Drift , Hickox’s collaboration with John Shirley-Quirk yielded a classic, unforgettable account whose glories other great performances—Beecham’s with John Brownlee, Mackerras’s with Thomas Hampson—rival but never surpass. In this company one is surprised by Reuter’s intensely persuasive involvement, and moved. His dark, commanding baritone hasn’t the beguiling colors of Shirley-Quirk’s, but his compassionate narration holds one with similar pathos and similarly spellbound. His diction is nearly perfect—equal stress on each syllable of “every” looms less as a distracting solecism than as a quaint poeticism. In both works, the choral singing glows.


Appalachia and Sea Drift are accorded five cuing points each. Comparisons are invidious and reservations regarding sound in Appalachia suggest that it’s less than adequate—it isn’t. In the remainder of the program, voices are upfront, the chorus is highlighted, and the orchestra is captured with detailed immediacy. One may quibble over details, but a superb level of commitment lifts this production into the realm of the enthusiastically recommendable.


FANFARE: Adrian Corleonis
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Works on This Recording

1.
Koanga: La Calinda by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Bo Holten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aarhus Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1895-1897; Paris, France 
2.
Sea Drift by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Johan Reuter (Baritone)
Conductor:  Bo Holten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aarhus Symphony Orchestra,  Aarhus Cathedral Choir,  Aarhus Symphony Orchestra Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903-1904; France 
3.
Appalachia - American Rhapsody by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Bo Holten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aarhus Symphony Orchestra,  Aarhus Cathedral Choir,  Aarhus Symphony Orchestra Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1896; Paris, France 
4.
koanga: Palmyra's aria by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Henriette Bonde-Hansen (Soprano)
Conductor:  Bo Holten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aarhus Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1895-1897; Paris, France 
5.
Koanga: Martinez introduces Koanga by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Johan Reuter (Baritone)
Conductor:  Bo Holten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aarhus Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1895-1897; Paris, France 
6.
Koanga: Koanga's invocation by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Simon Duus (Baritone), Johan Reuter (Baritone)
Conductor:  Bo Holten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aarhus Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1895-1897; Paris, France 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 DELIUS HOLTEN October 2, 2013 By ALLAN S. (CRANFORD, NJ) See All My Reviews "Another great recording (sound) and equally great performance) of a true Delian. A fine finish to a wonderful series. A must for all Delians" Report Abuse
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