Classical Reissue Reviews

DELIUS – 150th Anniversary Edition – 18 CDs [TrackList follows] – EMI Classics (18-CD box set)

A fine new collection of some of the best recordings of the evocative music of Delius.

Published on October 24, 2012

DELIUS – 150th Anniversary Edition – 18 CDs [TrackList follows] – EMI Classics box set 0841752 stereo & mono [1/10/12] *****:

There are other multi-disc Delius sets, but this is the only one with the support and endorsement of the Delius Society and from the label that has done some of the finest Delius recordings over the years—starting about the time electrical recording began, including those by Sir Thomas Beecham and Eric Fenby. Many of the recordings have been recently remastered, and all 18 discs make full use of the close to 80-minute limit on CDs. In fact the first disc is exactly 80 minutes length. The entire set, with a 44-page booklet which details every track and performer, is available for as little as $41 on Amazon.

Besides Beecham and Fenby, interpreters of Delius in the set include Sir John Barbirolli, Sir Charles Groves, Richard Hickox, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Neville Marriner and Sir Malcolm Sargent. There are historic performances by Gerald Moore, Beatrice Harrison, Dora Labbette, and Heddle Nash. In addition to the many orchestral works, songs and song cycles, there are the complete operas Koanga, A Village Romeo and Juliet, and Fennimore and Gerda. The texts for the operas and all the songs are in PDF form on CD17. CD1 ends with a fascinating talk by Beecham recorded in 1948 for the launch of the 78rpm set of A Village Romeo and Juliet.

I thought it rather surprising that there are so few of Beecham’s recordings in the set, but most of us probably have Beecham’s Delius albums in our collections already. I found the 1965 recording of his The Walk to the Paradise Garden (one of my personal favorites) by the London Symphony and Barbirolli to be just gorgeous. Altogether a wonderful opportunity for listeners to appreciate some of Delius’ great music.

TrackList:

CD 1: Winter Night. Marche Caprice. Over the Hills and Far Away. Dance Rhapsodies: No. 1; No. 2. Paa vidderne (Thomas Beecham, cond; Royal PO) & Introductory remarks on Delius by Beecham (80:00)

CD 2:  The Walk to the Paradise Garden. A Song of Summer. Irmelin Prelude (John Barbirolli, cond; London SO). Late Swallows (Barbirolli, cond; Hallé O). Appalachia (Barbirolli,cond; Alun Jenkins, bar; Ambrosian Singers; Hallé O) & Barbirolli rehearsing Appalachia (79:14)

CD 3: Paris Charles Mackerras,cond; Royal Liverpool SO; In a Summer Garden (Vernon Handley, cond; Hallé O). On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring. Summer Night on the River. Fennimore and Gerda: Intermezzo (Handley, cond; London PO). Piano Concerto (Piers Lane, pn; Royal Liverpool PO).

CD 4: Florida Suite. Brigg Fair (Richard Hickox, cond; Bournemouth SO). Summer Evening. La Calinda. Air and Dance. Hassan: Intermezzo; Serenade (Hickox, cond; Northern Snf of England). 2 Aquarelles (Neville Marriner, cond; Academy of St. Martin in the Fields) (79:04)

CD 5: Lebenstanz. North Country Sketches (Charles Groves, cond; Royal PO). Sea Drift (Groves, cond; John Noble, bar; Liverpool PCh; Royal Liverpool PO). Cynara (Groves, cond; John Shirley-Quirk, bar; Royal Liverpool PO) (76:54)

CD 6: Violin Concerto (Meredith Davies, cond; Yehudi Menuhin, vn; Royal PO). Double Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra (Davies, cond; Menuhin, vn; Paul Tortelier, vc; Royal PO). Cello Concerto (Malcolm Sargent, cond; Jacqueline du Pré, vc; Royal PO) (74:00)

CD 7: Arrangements by Eric Fenby. Dance. 1 La Calinda 2. Air and Dance 2. 5 Little Pieces for Small Orchestra. Sonata for String Orchestra (Eric Fenby, cond; 1,2 Elena Duran, fl; Bournemouth Snf). String Quartet (Britten Qrt) (79: 00)

CD 8: Violin Sonatas: Nos. 1–3 (Menuhin, vn; Fenby, pn). Légende (Tasmin Little, vn; John Lenehan, pn). Cello Sonata (Moray Welsh, vc; Israela Margalit, pn). Dance (Igor Kipnis, hpd) (78:49)

CD 9: Twilight Fancies (Ian Bostridge, ten; Julius Drake, pn). To Be Sung of a Summer Night on the Water (Philip Ledger, cond; Robert Tear, ten; King’s College Ch, Cambridge). Wanderer’s Song (Baccholian Singers of London). The Homeward Journey (Beecham, cond; Marjorie Thomas, mez; Royal PO). Twilight Fancies. Whither. The Violet (Beecham, cond; Elsie Suddaby, sop; Royal PO). Whither. The Violet. I-Brasil. Klein Venevil (Beecham, cond; Dora Labette, sop; London PO). Twilight Fancies. Cradle Song. The Nightingale (Dora Labette, sop; Beecham, pn). Irmelin Rose. So White, So Soft, So Sweet Is She. Le Ciel est, par-dessus le toit. La Lune blanche (Dora Labette, sop; Gerald Moore, pn). To the Queen of My Heart. Love’s Philosophy (Heddle Nash, ten; Gerald Moore, pn). Caprice and Elegy (Eric Fenby, cond; Beatrice Harrison, vc; CO) (63:20)

CD 10: Eventyr (Handley, cond; Hallé O). Hassan (Handley, cond; Martyn Hill, ten; Brian Rayner Cook, bar; Bournemouth Snf Ch; Bournemouth Snf) (79: 10)

CDs 11–12: Songs of Sunset (Groves, cond; Janet Baker, mez; John Shirley-Quirk, bar; Liverpool P Ch; Royal Liverpool PO). An Arabesque (Groves, cond; Shirley-Quirk, bar;

Liverpool P Ch; Royal Liverpool PO). A Mass of Life (Groves, cond; Heather Harper, sop; Helen Watts, mez; Robert Tear, ten; Benjamin Luxon, bar; London P Ch; London PO) (141:14)

CD 13: Requiem (Meredith Davies, cond; Heather Harper, sop; John Shirley-Quirk, bar; Royal Ch Society; Royal PO). Idyll (Meredith Davies, cond; Heather Harper, sop; John Shirley-Quirk, bar; Royal PO). A Song Before Sunrise (Sargent, cond; Royal PO). Songs of Farewell (Sargent, cond; Royal Ch Society; Royal PO) (78:18)

CDs 14–15: Koanga (Groves, cond; Eugene Holmes, bar; Claudia Lindsey, sop; Raimund Herincx, bass; Keith Erwen, ten; John Alldis Ch; London SO). The Song of the High Hills (Groves, cond; Miriam Bowen, sop; Peter Bingham, ten; Liverpool P Ch; Royal Liverpool PO). (137:48)

CDs 16–17: A Village Romeo and Juliet (Davies, cond; Elizabeth Harwood, sop; Robert Tear, ten; John Shirley-Quirk, bar; John Alldis Ch; Royal PO) & Illustrated talk by Eric Fenby (137:01)

CD 18: Fennimore and Gerda (Davies, cond; Elizabeth Söderström, sop; Robert Tear, ten; Brian Rayner Cook, bar; Danish R Ch; Danish RSO) (78:26)

—John Sunier




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