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4.7 out of 5 stars13
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 6 April 2012
This release appears to be on Audio CD only and this is the format that I sent for and received before going on a short touring holiday of the north of England and my soundtrack for this road trip was this set of CDs to play on my old car's CD player. I have loved the music of Delius since being introduced to his music whilst at University in the late 1970s. Here was a chance to get re-acquainted with a number of much loved old recordings first enjoyed on vinyl. The Barbirolli/Halle recordings of some of the orchestral pieces, especially a personal favourite "In a Summer Garden", are a special highlight. It was a deep happiness to hear again these sublime hymns to nature played with such insight and I was drawn in once more to share the composer's godless yet deeply spiritual worship of and joy in the beauty of life. If nostalgia could be this rewarding all the time it wouldn't have such a bad name. Also very much deserving of praise are the Charles Groves and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra recordings. The Menuhin and Tortelier recordings of the violin, cello and double concertos are full of the inspried musicianship that one would expect from two such much admired virtuosi.

Delius is, as I suspect any reader of this review will know, a much neglected composer these days and the trajectory of his fall from popularity can be taken from the fact the vast majority of these EMI recording date from the 1960s and 1970s. There is almost nothing recorded in the last 25 years. In the years that have elapsed since the golden years of EMI's Delius recording, Delius has been played less and less. It is such a pity because on his day his music stands comparison with any other British composer including Elgar, Vaughan Williams or Holst (all of whom were his near contemporaries). Sea Drift is a work of astonishing emotional depth and musical beauty, the violin concerto is a never ending stream of melodic and harmonic invention. Even my enthusiasm is not so great as to claim that the Mass of Life is without its longeurs but the opening to parts one and two and the penultimate and ultimate sections are joyous choral and orchestral affirmations of life that have no direct parallel anywhere in human artistic achievement.

The last point brings me on to one of the most important things to realise about Delius.He is quite unlike any other composer or creative artist for that matter. He is a one off. His sensibility to life, beauty, love, sex and the musical language in which he expresses it is unlike that of any other composer. Critics have said many detrimental things about Delius - one is that he always sounds the same - well there are some tropes that come up again and again but this cd set proves his astonishing range within his unique sound world.

Delius made a number of attempts at opera and we have three complete recordings on this set. We have the most successful of them "A Village Romeo and Juliet" which has some very successful music indeed not just the famous "Walk to the Paradise Garden" but also the whole closing section which has echoes of Tristan and Parsifal (at least to these ears). We also have "Koanga" (an early opera based on a story of cross cultural love and conflict on a New World plantation) and "Fennimore and Gerda" (a sub Strindbergian plot with some voluptuous music). Delius' operas have never found a regular place in the repertoire of the world's opera houses. Despite his admiration for Wagner, Delius just could not get the hang of writing consistently successfully for the lyric stage.

The core of the set is to be found in the recordings from the 1960s and early 1970s of the central works of the Delius oeuvre "Appalachia", "Song of the High Hills", "Brigg Fair", "In a Summer Garden", "Sea Drift", "Songs of Sunset", "The Mass of Life", the string concertos and the string chamber music.

Someone once said that a great composer is a composer who creates his/her own sound world. By that token Delius is a great composer and the listener who buys this excellent celebration set of CDs will derive great joy from much if not perhaps all of the music contained within.

I do urge you to try Delius's music and if you are going to start somewhere, try "In a Summer Garden".It lasts about 14 minutes. Sit down and relax and think of a warm sunlit summer's day sat in large garden after a delicious lunch. Imagine a river gently flowing at the bottom of the garden with dragon flies dancing in the sunlt haze. Imagine bees hovering among flowering shrubs in the full bloom of June... you begin to doze off.. and now let Delius take you there.
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on 12 July 2012
CD 1 [79.20]
[1] Sleigh Ride (Winternacht) 5.30
[2] Marche caprice (ed & arr. Beecham) 4.00
[3] Over the hills and far away (ed. Beecham) 12.57
[4] A Dance Rhapsody no. 2 7.40
[5] -[9] A Dance Rhapsody no. 1 12.01
[10] On the Mountains (Paa vidderne) 12.17
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Thomas Beecham
[11] -[15] Promotional presentation by Sir Thomas Beecham in October 1948 for the launch of the 78rpm set of A Village Romeo and Juliet 25.02

CD 2 [78.50]
[1] The Walk to the Paradise Garden from A Village Romeo and Juliet (arr. Beecham) 9.45
[2] A Song of Summer 11.19
[3] Irmelin Prelude 5.44
London Symphony Orchestra/Sir John Barbirolli
[4] Late Swallows (arr. Fenby) 10.49
Hallé Orchestra/Sir John Barbirolli
[5] Rehearsing Appalachia (16.VII.1970) 2.32
[6] -[22] Appalachia - Variations on an Old Slave Song with final chorus 37.19 (rev. & ed. Beecham)
Ambrosian Singers (chorus master: John McCarthy)
Hallé Orchestra/Sir John Barbirolli

CD 3 [75.50]
[1] Paris - The Song of a great City 21.49
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Charles Mackerras
[2] In a Summer Garden 14.12
Hallé Orchestra/Vernon Handley
Two Pieces for Small Orchestra
[3] No. 1 On hearing the first cuckoo in Spring 5.42
[4] No. 2 Summer night on the river 6.23
[5] Intermezzo from `Fennimore and Gerda' (arr. Fenby) 4.54
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley
[6] -[8] Piano Concerto in C minor 22.40
Piers Lane, piano
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley

CD 4 [78.55]
[1] -[4] Florida, suite (Revised and edited by Sir Thomas Beecham) 38.15
[5] -[27] Brigg Fair - An English Rhapsody 16.02
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Richard Hickox
[28] Summer Evening (arr. Beecham) 6.30
[29] La Calinda from Koanga (arr. Fenby) 4.05
[30] Air and Dance 4.05
[31] Intermezzo & 2.13
[32] Serenade from Hassan (arr. Beecham) 2.23
Northern Sinfonia of England/Richard Hickox
[33] -[34] Two Aquarelles, arr. Fenby 4.11
The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields/Sir Neville Marriner

CD 5 [76.50]
[1] Lebenstanz (Life's Dance) 15.21
[2] -[5] North Country Sketches 26.46
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Charles Groves
[6] -[13] Sea Drift (Whitman) 25.02
John Noble, baritone/Liverpool Philharmonic Choir
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Charles Groves
[14] Cynara (Dowson) 9.30
John Shirley-Quirk, baritone
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Charles Groves

CD 6 [69.30]
[1] -[3] Violin Concerto 27.14
Yehudi Menuhin, violin
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Meredith Davies
[4] -[6] Double Concerto for violin, cello and orchestra 21.50
Yehudi Menuhin, violin/Paul Tortelier, cello
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Meredith Davies
[7] -[11] Cello Concerto 24.37
Jacqueline du Pré, cello
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Malcolm Sargent

CD 7 [79.00]
ALL WORKS ARRANGED BY ERIC FENBY 1906-1997
[1] Dance* 2.36 Two Pieces for flute and strings*
[2] 1. La Calinda 3.36
[3] 2. Air and Dance 4.56
[4] -[8] Five Little Pieces for small orchestra 9.50
[9] -[12] Sonata for String Orchestra 28.54
*Elena Duran, flute
Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Eric Fenby
[13] -[16] String Quartet 28.44
Britten Quartet
Peter Manning & Keith Pascoe, violins
Peter Lale, viola _ Andrew Shulman, cello

CD 8 [78.40]
[1] -[3] Violin Sonata No. 1 22.50
[4] -[6] Violin Sonata No. 2 13.32
[7] -[9] Violin Sonata No. 3 17.10
Yehudi Menuhin, violin _ Eric Fenby, piano
[10] Légende in E flat 8.15
Tasmin Little, violin _ John Lenehan, piano
[11] -[13] Cello Sonata 14.19
Moray Welsh, cello _ Israela Margalit, piano
[14] Dance for Harpsichord 2.21
Igor Kipnis, harpsichord

CD 9 [67.00]
[1] Twilight Fancies (Evening Voices) (Bjørnson; English: Copeland) 3.49
Ian Bostridge, tenor _ Julius Drake, piano
[2] -[3] To be sung of a summer night on the water (wordless) 4.15
Choir of King's College, Cambridge/Sir Philip Ledger
[4] Wanderer's Song (Symons) 3.35
Baccholian Singers of London
Rogers Covey-Crump, Ian Partridge, Ian Thompson, Paul Elliott, tenors
Ian Humphris, Stephen Varcoe, baritone; Michael George, Brian Etheridge, bass
[5] Heimkehr (The Homeward Journey) (Vinje) orch. Sondheimer 4.40
Marjorie Thomas, mezzo-soprano
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Thomas Beecham
[6] Twilight Fancies (Evening Voices) (Bjørnson) orch. Beecham 4.12
[7] Whither (Autumn) (Holstein) orch. Beecham 2.42
[8] The Violet (Holstein) orch. Gibson 1.53
Elsie Suddaby, soprano
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Thomas Beecham
[9] Whither (Autumn) (Holstein) orch. Beecham 2.45
[10] The Violet (Holstein) orch. Gibson 1.48
[11] I-Brasîl (MacLeod) orch. Heseltine (Warlock) 2.45
[12] Klein Venevil (Bjørnson) [sung in German] 1.51
Dora Labbette, soprano
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Thomas Beecham
[13] Twilight Fancies (Evening Voices) (Bjørnson) 4.18
[14] Cradle Song (Ibsen) 2.13
[15] The Nightingale (Welhaven) 2.03
Dora Labbette, soprano _ Sir Thomas Beecham, piano
[16] Irmelin Rose (Jacobsen) } 4.20
[17] So white, so soft, so sweet Is she (Johnson)
[18] Le ciel est, par-dessus le toit (Verlaine) 4.24
[19] La lune blanche (Verlaine)
Dora Labbette, soprano _ Gerald Moore, piano
[20] To The Queen Of My Heart (Shelley) 4.47
[21] Love's Philosophy (Shelley)
Heddle Nash, tenor _ Gerald Moore, piano
[22] Caprice and Elegy 9.25
Beatrice Harrison, cello
Chamber Orchestra/Eric Fenby

CD 10 [79.10]
[1] Eventyr (Once upon a time) 16.14
Hallé Orchestra/Vernon Handley
[2] -[27] Hassan, Incidental music (Flecker) 62.56
Martyn Hill, tenor _ Brian Rayner Cook, baritone
Bournemouth Sinfonietta Choir
Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Vernon Handley

CD 11 [75.08]
[1] -[8] Songs of Sunset (Dowson) 29.31
Dame Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano _ John Shirley-Quirk, baritone
Liverpool Philharmonic Choir
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Charles Groves
[9] An Arabesque (Jacobsen) 11.38
John Shirley-Quirk, baritone
Liverpool Philharmonic Choir
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Charles Groves
A Mass of Life (from Nietzsche: Also sprach Zarathustra)
[10] -[14] FIRST PART 33.41

CD 12 [1] -[8] SECOND PART [66.07]
A Mass of Life (from Nietzsche: Also sprach Zarathustra)

Heather Harper, soprano _ Helen Watts, contralto
Robert Tear, tenor _ Benjamin Luxon, baritone
London Philharmonic Choir
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Charles Groves

CD 13 [78.15]
[1] -[5] Requiem 30.35
Heather Harper, soprano _ John Shirley-Quirk, baritone
Royal Choral Society
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Meredith Davies
[6] -[11] Idyll (Once I passed through a populous city) (Whitman) 21.32
Heather Harper, soprano _ John Shirley-Quirk, baritone
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Meredith Davies
[12] A Song before Sunrise 6.09
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Malcolm Sargent
[13] -[17] Songs of Farewell (Whitman) 19.23
Royal Choral Society
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Malcolm Sargent

CD 14 [61.16]
Koanga
[1] -[16] Prologue, Act 1 & 2

CD 15 [76.32]
Koanga
[1] -[13] Act 3 & Epilogue 51.34
[14] -[17] The Song of the High Hills (wordless) 24.58
Liverpool Philharmonic Choir
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Charles Groves

CD 16 [68.10]
A Village Romeo and Juliet
[1] -[22] Scenes 1 - 4 (inc.)

CD 17 [68.46]
A Village Romeo and Juliet
[1] -[15] Scenes 5 & 6 41.26
John Alldis Choir/John Alldis
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Meredith Davies

Illustrated talk by Eric Fenby 27.20

CD 18 [78.24]
Fennimore and Gerda
[1] -[15] Pictures 1 - 11 (inc.)

Danish Radio Chorus
Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Meredith Davies
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 October 2015
I've tried Delius before,never been that impressed,despite Beecham's advocacy.Seeing this,I thought,why not give him another chance?I did,and rather to my surprise,warmed to the man,at last.Is he my favourite composer?No,but this set proves there was far more to him than I had hitherto discovered,and this box is a great way of exploring his sound world.And let's not discount the possibility that he may yet become a favourite,in time.This is rather persuasive.......
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on 28 March 2013
Great value and just what I was after. Good to have everything in one compact box, quality excellent.Would recommend to any music lover..
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on 19 February 2013
I have long wanted a good selection of Delius' compositions and this is it! I took one look at it and ordered it.It ticks all my boxes.
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on 4 April 2013
As a novice to the world of Fritz Delius, I bought this box set on the advice of another, and am perfectly happy I did so.

I cannot compare the works here to works featuring other artists, but I really do not need to: This is the one I have and I would buy it again - in a heartbeat.

He imbues many of his works with delicacy and suggestion, and to my inexperienced ear, he always seems to avoid clubbing his audience, preferring to entice them to share each journey and become part thereof.

He has certainly been accused of meandering, and most Delians would rear up in outrage in his defence, but I find that indirect route to be an absolute part of his charm. He seems so often to be searching for something...something pure, perhaps? Who knows?
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on 17 August 2013
Others have written reviews - read them. For collectors of classical works this is a must. It's well put together and will give you hours and hours of enormous enjoyment. Buy it while you can - it will never be done again certainly not at this reasonable price of £36.01.
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on 29 September 2012
A fine collection of Delius's work, along with interesting comment by Fenby and Beecham which add some personality detail of this gentle genius to the broader picture of his unique music. A must for all lovers of Delius's extensive output, as well as a fitting introduction for all who want to experience its beauty for the first time.
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on 16 February 2016
Great value for the money
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on 22 October 2015
great compilation
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