Delius and his Circle
‘Paul Guinery?’ many UK readers will ask. ‘Where have I heard that name?’ Either Stone Records thinks it doesn’t matter or Mr Guinery is too self-effacing but there is no artist biography accompanying this delightful disc to tell you that the pianist and the long-serving BBC Radio 3 staff announcer are one and the same (Guinery has now slipped the surly bonds of Portland Place for the sunlit uplands of the freelance life).
As you might expect from the vice chairman of the Delius Society with a degree in modern languages, this is a thoughtful and resourcefully compiled programme – 19 works (26 separate titles mostly of three or four minutes’ duration) – with a masterly booklet essay. There are a number of discoveries, rarely encountered pieces such as Delius’s Three Preludes, his curious Dance for harpsichord, The Enchanted Palace by the celebrated baritone Frederic Austin, Grainger’s The Merry King and Peter Warlock’s transcription (uncredited in the track listing) of the Intermezzo from Hassan.
Whether or not there is sufficient variety of mood, texture and dynamics over the course of 72 minutes is a moot point. Lyrical, reflective pieces constitute the vast majority of the disc and it is in these that Guinery is most successful. Though he sounds never less than lovely, in the extrovert numbers (Balfour Gardiner's Mere, Moeran's Bank Holiday - a work that might well be mistaken for Grainger's),s swagger and exuberance are restrained. More importantly, though, Guinery conveys with impeccable taste and an innate love of and empathy with this undervalued corner of the repertoire.