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Many first ever issues of Beecham conducting Delius.,
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This review is from: Delius - The Beecham Collection (Audio CD)
More than half of the music included in this estimable CD derive from hitherto unissued recordings made at the 1934 Leeds Festival. In very acceptable sound, with a balance that favours the soloists Roy Henderson and Olga Haley, the principal works are "An Arabesque", and "Song of Sunset". Collectors have wondered about the elusive "Song of Sunset" recording for many years. Two subsequent attempts by Beecham to record this work are said to have dissatisfied him. Requests and searches for playable test copies of this 1934 Leeds Festival recording produced nothing until now. Here, from Beecham's own archives of test pressings, made available by Shirley, Lady Beecham, are heard all but the last few minutes of the 1934 performance. The missing part is provided from a 1946 recording. I understand that the missing part of the 1934 performance has since been located in the British Museum.
Also included here are all the recordings of Delius songs Beecham made, accompanying the soprano Dora Labbette. The singing of this fine English soprano was not only wonderfully pure, ethereal and graceful, it also clearly conveyed the songs' texts. Happily, it recorded well, although the singer was required to turn her head away from the microphone when taking a high, loud note - as can be heard several times in "Twilight Fancies".
The less said about the only orchestral item included, the better. Apparently 1938 recording techniques and venues were not kind to the special sonorities Delius created in the orchestration of his "A Mass of Life" prelude. The blurred, nebulous sound heard here produces no effect other than puzzlement.