Mstation Classical Reviews

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Mon, 01 May 2006


Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
March Caprice [4.08]
Three Small Tone Poems
Summer Evening [6.17]
Winter Night [5.42]
Spring Morning [7.24]
American Rhapsody [9.29]
The Walk to the Paradise Garden [9.11]
Two Pieces for Small Orchestra
	On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring [5.53]
	Summer Night on the River [6.19]
A song before Sunrise [5.25]
Fantastic Dance [3.49]
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/David Lloyd-Jones
rec Aug 2002, Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, Scotland
NAXOS 8.557143 [63.38]

This charming disc shows that there is more to the orchestral music of Delius than is generally perceived. The normal thought about Delius is that his music surges from pianissimo to climax in a mighty mezzo-piano and is all slow and impressionistic. There is plenty of that aspect here, but much more besides. In a clever piece of programming the disc opens with a rather unexpected Marche Caprice, with prominent brasses and a jaunty rhythmic style. This would be an interesting one with which to play "Name the Composer"; few people would guess Delius.

Also included here are Delius' two most famous works "On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring" and "The Walk to the Paradise Garden", the latter being the famous orchestral interlude from Delius' opera A Village Romeo and Juliet. Both of these well known works are given sympathetic readings by Lloyd-Jones and RSNO. Their collaborations in English symphonic music for Naxos have become highly regarded - not least their splendid series of the complete symphonies of Arnold Bax. The recording is also highly enjoyable, the Naxos engineers by now knowing the ways of the Henry Wood Hall in Glasgow of old. Here is clarity and lucidity in the string sound, with excellent balance where the brass do get to open out. As an example, another of the more well-known works is the second of the Three Small Tone Poems, Winter Night, which is a jolly and light-hearted Sleigh ride, complete with sleigh bells. Also, however, there is orchestral power in which the brass and horns do get their big moment.

The Two Pieces for Small Orchestra, which include On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, are typically Delius. Translucent colours and subtle textures abound and the performance is definitely worthy of repeated listening. Added to this the addition of further rarities such as the large (for Delius) American Rhapsody; more of a landscape tone poem of the mid-west plains than a Gershwin-esque jaunt through the jazz streets of Chicago; and the languid flute, bassoon and strings of A Song before Sunrise, and you have a well worthwhile collection of enjoyable orchestral pieces. ((c) 2006 Peter Wells)

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