I first heard and was captivated by Delius, as I`m sure many of a certain age were,
in the `60s BBC TV film about the composer by Ken Russell - one of his less overwrought efforts. I soon bought a lovely LP of various pieces conducted by John Barbirolli (the Delius/Barbirolli box set available is excellent, despite a less than perfect Brigg Fair).
Nowadays, thanks to a post-sixties resurgence of interest in this distinctive composer, there are many recordings to choose from of almost all the works, and Naxos, who have done British music proud over the years, here present the languorous Florida Suite (Delius was an orange grower there as a young man, returning later to check how the fruit crop was doing) as well as the gorgeous Over The Hills And Far Away, and four other similarly compelling pieces by this most idealistic of artists.
Even a six-minute one-off simply called Scherzo is delightful.
David Lloyd-Jones and the ENP convey this music to the listener in both superb sound and fulsome, sturdy playing, which is as it should be since Delius needs a strong hand on the tiller, so that the sometimes meandering structure can form a bedrock for his invariably dreamy musical musings.
With German parentage, Fritz Theodore Albert Delius was born in Bradford, Yorks in 1862, travelled much in Scandinavia, especially his beloved Norway - where he befriended and was taught by Grieg - and eventually settled in France. To call him a quintessentially English composer is not only inaccurate but gives a false impression of this hard-to-place composer. He was as inspired by the Florida night as by dawn over the fjords, by a rural French garden as by the Yorkshire Dales.
I think, and have long thought, he is one of the most pleasingly uncategorisable of composers, with a unique vision and a sound world all his own.
There is no `correct` way to interpret that sound world, but Lloyd-Jones comes as close as any on this wonderful and welcome disc, which I highly recommend, both on its own terms and as a fine introduction to the frequently sublime music of Frederick Delius.
This music brings me great pleasure and happiness. This early Delius is great music and deserves to be better known. It speaks of the time that Delius spent in America and listened to the music of the black workers on the Orange Plantations at Solano Grove near to the great St. John's River. I don't know if Delius had a relationship with a black worker or whether she bore him a child, but he certainly had a massive affection for the time that he spent there. Part of the evidence is the fresh and lively Florida Suite - Daybreak- Dance ('La Calinda'- one of my favourite tunes) , By the River, Sunset - near the Plantation, and finally At Night. There are two movements from a little suite. I wonder what he was thinking as he wrote the mildly exotic 'La Quadroone'( Rapsodie floridienne). There is a fantasy overture 'Over the Hills and Far Away' with some fine moments for flute. The final scene from the opera 'Koanga' inspired by the black African experience in America set on an 18th century Louisiana plantation is a fitting conclusion to this beautifully realised experience with excellent performances from English Northern Philharmonia conducted by David Lloyd Jones.