Delius Orchestral Works Vol 3

Towering performances under the baton of Delius’s most tireless champion – an ideal opportunity to sample the Beecham magic

Author: 
Andrew Achenbach

Delius Orchestral Works Vol 3

  • Brigg Fair (An English Rhapsody)
  • Koanga, La Calinda (choral dance)
  • Hassan, Closing scene: We take the Golden Road to Samarkan
  • Irmelin Prelude
  • Appalachia Variations on a old slave song

There always was a unique alchemy between the art of Sir Thomas Beecham and the music of Frederick Delius, and you can detect it in every bar of this remarkable January 1938 recording of Appalachia. It is, quite simply, a performance to cherish, its beaming dedication, wistful heartache and rapt wonder leaving the listener in no doubt about Sir Thomas’s boundless love for a work that served as his introduction to the composer (he later recalled how the 1907 London premiere under Fritz Cassirer left him ‘startled and electrified’). By July 1938, Beecham and the LPO had committed to disc the three remaining items that eventually made up The Delius Society’s lavishly presented third and final volume of the composer’s music issued by Columbia Records; suffice it to say, La Calinda skips along entrancingly here, while no true Delian could fail to respond to Beecham’s ineffably poignant way with both the closing scene from Hassan and the lovely Irmelin Prelude.
Naxos’s curtain-raiser, Brigg Fair, was recorded towards the end of the previous decade. Some seven months separated the two days required to produce a reading of unforgettable tenderness and bewitching poetry (the results of an even earlier session in July 1928 having been rejected altogether), although I must say I still hold an ever-so-slight preference for the second of Sir Thomas’s three versions (a gloriously intuitive display with the newly formed RPO from November 1946).
David Lennick’s transfers have been admirably managed, Appalachia now sounding rather more open and full-bodied than on a rival Dutton compilation (10/94). Throw in a lively and informative booklet-essay from Lyndon Jenkins, not to mention the absurdly low price-tag, and it should be abundantly clear that this is a self- recommending issue.'

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