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6 Reviews
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure trove
May be due to stiff competition I was less enthusiastic about Tasmin Little's performance in Elgar's Violin Concerto than many others were. But this time I cannot but express my greatest admiration for her sensitive playing in Delius' Violin Concerto. In fact the whole disk is a treasure trove: Programme, soloists, orchestra, conductor and, last but not least, the typical...
Published on 9 Oct 2011 by Adrian

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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rapturous Performances but Poor Recording
I love Delius and finally we have 3 of his rarely heard concertos on one multi-channel SACD. I listened to this in Chandos' 5.0 speaker surround sound. These are beautifully played by all performers and I would rate the performances 5 stars. Tasmin Little is delicate and sensitive and soaring to great heights when the music calls for it. Paul Watkins plays the cello with...
Published on 31 Dec 2011 by ClassicalMusicLover


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure trove, 9 Oct 2011
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May be due to stiff competition I was less enthusiastic about Tasmin Little's performance in Elgar's Violin Concerto than many others were. But this time I cannot but express my greatest admiration for her sensitive playing in Delius' Violin Concerto. In fact the whole disk is a treasure trove: Programme, soloists, orchestra, conductor and, last but not least, the typical Chandos sound. Delius' background is not as British as one would think. Of German descent, he has spent a large part of his life in France. `External' influences are noticeable, though more German than French, as he did not mingle much with the French musical world. Yet, most listeners are convinced that his music is firmly rooted in the Anglo-Saxon tradition and that, in order to flourish and bring out the beauty, performances are best served by `native' English interpreters. This may largely be the result of the admiration of the late Sir Thomas Beecham for the compositions of Delius and his continued efforts to bring these to the attention of British audiences. Delius' markings like `rather quiet, `rather quicker' etc. have a typically British flavour, too, and it would seem that you have to be born and grown into understanding this kind of lyrical country style inspired music to recreate what seems to have been meant by him. On my side of the Channel, British music does not enjoy the same popularity as it does `over there'. With this disk, however, Chandos makes a most convincing statement. In the hands of the chosen performers, Delius becomes so much more than `On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring'. We have here the three major solo works for strings (excluding the Caprice and Elegy, for Cello and Orchestra and the Suite for Violin and Orchestra): The seldom played double concerto, the better known violin concerto and, finally, his melodious Cello Concerto. Tasmin Little and Paul Watkins are a perfect team in the Double Concerto and the latter excels in the Cello Concerto, turning it into a most memorable experience. Together with Tasmin Little's aforementioned playing in the Violin Concerto, nothing but praise, therefore, and that includes Andrew Litton and his musicians. Those who are not familiar with Delius' larger compositions can't do better than buying this disk and enjoy it as much as I did.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delius Fan, 3 Dec 2011
By 
L. Hepplewhite "Lionel" (England) - See all my reviews
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I write as a Delius fan since the early 1950s when I used to attend concerts by the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra and under Maurice Miles they gave most elegant performances of that Comperer's works and also extra special ones of Haydn. I looked forward to this recording with great expectations knowing how sincerely Tasmin Little has championed the concertos included on this disc and the high class technical skills Chandos bring to CD recordings. I will not go in to detail but give shortcut opinions based on listening to most recording of the music of Delius over many years. I would give it five stars on most counts and agree in many respects with former reviewer but I must reduce that to four stars on account of style in fortissimo passages. Sometimes I feel like a voice crying in the wilderness when I condemn too many classical performances for being frantic in fortissimo passages. In Delius' music in particular the playing always demands broad, loving and ecstatic care over every note. Jean Pougnet gets near this in the still definitive recording with Beecham and the RPO but here on this CD the playing tends towards the frantic and aggressive whenever the intensity and volume rises to a climax. It seems to be difficult for modern orchestras to achieve this when they are used to playing much classical music in a "safe" standard style. Remember Beethoven was an anathema to Delius. Sometimes Tasmin Little's vibrato is unnecessarily excessive and the notes are attcked in fortissimo passages but the tone is otherwise big and expressive and the intertwining of the two parts in the double concerto is excellent. Thanks to the performers and Chandos for making this CD available and only the frantic style in loud passages reduce the rating.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Estimable performances, 13 Oct 2011
These are estimable performances of all three works and I should just about give the palm to this recording of the Double Concerto over Little's earlier recording with Mackerras.

Good as they are , and indeed this is an excellent way of getting all three concertos on one disc - I still prefer the gorgeous sensual performance of the Violin Concerto by Ralph Holmes and Vernon Handley on Unicorn Kanchana and the deeply romantic du Pre/Sargent recording of the Cello Concerto which makes Watkins sound rather earthbound in comparison but then she was a very hard act to follow in this work as in the Elgar.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delius string concertos, 7 Jan 2014
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The concertos for violin and cello, plus the Double Concerto are wonderful works for the solo stringed instruments. They are superbly written for the instruments, are very lyrical, and magnificently performed on this record by the incomparable British artists Tasmin Little and Paul Watkins. Highly recommendable.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rapturous Performances but Poor Recording, 31 Dec 2011
I love Delius and finally we have 3 of his rarely heard concertos on one multi-channel SACD. I listened to this in Chandos' 5.0 speaker surround sound. These are beautifully played by all performers and I would rate the performances 5 stars. Tasmin Little is delicate and sensitive and soaring to great heights when the music calls for it. Paul Watkins plays the cello with similar beauty and sensitivity. The rapport between the two in the violin and cello concerto is rapturous. However, I wish I could say the same for the recording. Normally I love Chandos recordings and have been a fan for over 25 years. Ralph Couzens' recordings of the BBC Symphony done in Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, at Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, and at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and at other large venues are superb! In this recording Ralph Couzens, normally superb recording engineer, has decided to use a very distant microphone technique (further away than normal) in a very reverberant venue, All Saints' Church, Tooting, London. This venue has been used by Chandos many times before, but this time their microphone placement is too far from the orchestra. (I have the same problem with their recordings of the Choir of St John's College Cambridge, done by a different recording engineer, the mics are too far from the choir.) In this recording Tasmin Little sounds like she is in front of the orchestra, but the orchestra sounds too far away in the background and the winds sound so far away its ridicules. One gets the perspective that one is sitting in the tenth row from the soloist but the orchestra is about 25 feet further behind the soloist. This distance masks orchestra detail and location. Also, the center and rear channels are used for reverberation only but strangely there is hardly anything coming out of them, especially the rear ones. I've heard much better Multi-channel SACD recordings of orchestras done in large churches before, like Alia Vox label's SACD of Mozart's Serenate Notturne, K. 239, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525, etc. recorded at the Collégiale du Château de Cardona (Mozart: Serenate Notturne, K. 239; Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525 [Hybrid SACD]). Also I have heard better 2 channel recordings done in large churches like Karajan's Beethoven Symphonies recorded at the Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin from 1962 for instance (Beethoven: The Symphonies); the trick is proper microphone placement. So, in the end I was disappointed with this SACD, due to the poor recording technique used. But I'm still glad to have recordings of these rare atmospheric masterpieces.

A final minor criticism: This SACD came in a regular CD case. Chandos, like many other classical SACD makers are no longer using the Super Audio CD case that has the nice rounded edges. When I buy a Super Audio CD and pay the extra money, I like to feel like I'm getting something special, and the Super Audio CD case does that for me. So, shame on Chandos for abandoning the Super Audio CD case and bravo to BIS for continuing to issue SACD in the Super Audio CD cases.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A First, 22 Oct 2013
By 
Nobody "Alan Boyes" (Newcastle, England) - See all my reviews
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Unbelievably, this is the first recording of the three Delius string concertos together on one recording: or so I'm led to believe. Quite why these three warm, hazy and lyrical concertos have never been packaged together is a mystery to me. All the concertos followed his attending a performance of the Brahms Double Concerto performed by the Harrison sisters. He immediately set to work on a Double Concerto for them. This was quickly followed by the Violin Concerto and then his final completed work before his illness took hold, the Cello Concerto. The latter was his favourite and, not that it counts for so much, mine too: what a radiant end to the cycle this work amounts to.

The one movement, seemingly rhapsodic structure, of all three works carry more thematic integration and logic than might first appear obvious but the seamless flow and "rightness" belie the underlying sense. Their lack of virtuoso show may be the reason for their neglect but without the need for concerto hall show and bravado they really shine on disc.

There is a reasonable choice for the Cello and Violin Concertos but the sound clarity on Chandos beats the competition. Paul Watkins' only takes 21 minutes over the Cello Concerto whereas Julian Lloyd Webber's excellent RCA version takes five more minutes. The quicker time doesn't leave the concerto feeling rushed: it still comes across as a warm and languid piece. The lesser known Double Concerto is a joy from start to finish as is Tasmin Little's rendition of the Violin Concerto. The complete neglect of the Double Concerto in comparison to the other two takes some understanding. Here is a recording to sit back and wallow in for a good hour or so: First Class.
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