More than two and a half hours of Delius might seem daunting to some. Ghastly chromatic harmonies, yes there are a few. But not many, for this album is full of surprises and many rewards. Just look through the list of titles and see how many times the words 'summer' and 'song' appear. The first surprise is that this album contains not only sumptuous orchestral music but choral: a most enchanting two-minute piece for wordless choir "To Be Sung On A Summer Night". Absolutely beautiful.
The next surprise is the outstanding quality of the woodwind playing from various British orchestras, that wonderful lyrical style that distinguished 'English' players from those on the Continent. Sadly this is gradually being replaced by a sort of Euro style as players move between countries. Who were these wonderful players? We may never know, but the unmistakable playing of Terence MacDonagh, Beecham's principal oboist, can be heard in Sleigh Ride.
Overall this album deserves its title 'Essential Delius'. It captures the very special mood of this powerful, romantic, visionary, and unique composer: 'summer in a bottle', and frankly for £2.49 you can't go wrong.