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Customer Review

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The perfect compilation if you want just a taster, 1 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Delius: The Royal Philharmonic Collection (Audio CD)
With the exception of Elgar, my compatriot composers are not amongst my favourites, but I have at least enough regard for the delicate, perfumed effusions of Delius to want at least one compilation containing a survey of his best orchestral miniatures - and this disc fits the bill.

There are at least half a dozen first class recordings on the super-bargain Tring label and its derivatives made by the RPO during the early-to-mid 90's; these include Handley's Rachmaninov 2, Shipway's Mahler 5 and a Gershwin/Ravel/Debussy anthology; here is another. They are all in superb, warm, detailed sound and feature an orchestra in top form. The sumptuous textures of Delius's sighing strings, grainy bassoons and rippling harps emerge with remarkable clarity, permitting the listener to trace the many influences over his music despite the peculiarly British individuality of his voice: that wistful, nostalgic, pastoral idyll occasionally overshadowed by cloud which reaches its apotheosis in Elgar's and Vaughan Williams' symphonic slow movements.

The predecessors acknowledged as informing his sound-world music are Grieg and Wagner, but to my ears the most obvious are Bizet - many allusions, unconscious or not, to the "L'Arlésienne" suite - and Debussy's "Prélude et l'après-midi d'un faune", although Delius often moves from gauzy impressionism to either a more robust Romanticism or a more folksy jollity as per the Bizet. Hills, gardens, fairs, villages, sunrises and sunsets, cuckoos and Spring - you get the picture and charming it is, too - are his stock in trade, although the steamier, more exotic rhythms of the music from "Koanga" and "Hassan" and the more impassioned love music "A Walk to the Paradise Garden" from "A village Romeo and Juliet" provide contrast to the prevailing bucolic mood, containing an ascending chord reminiscent of the Liebestod from "Tristan und Isolde". I was particularly taken by the Prelude to his first opera "Irmelin", a rarer piece, as is the rather episodic and disjointed early work "Over the Hills and Far Away".

I do not need any more Delius in my collection; what I have heard of him over the years, even if I do not exactly recall what, has led me to believe that this beautifully played and judiciously selected compilation of his "lollipops" will serve my needs and I leave a deeper appreciation of his more recherché works to the aficionados.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Dec 2010 19:29:26 GMT
Might I venture to suggest that a perfect Delius compilation ought to include his Florida Suite - an early, rather atypical but melodically unforgettable work that includes the first incarnation of La Calinda.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Dec 2010 23:36:53 GMT
Ralph Moore says:
You might well be right; I'm afraid I am not familiar with it, precisely for the reasons I give in my review, that I am not a huge fan but do enjoy selections.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Dec 2010 23:25:49 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Jan 2011 18:51:39 GMT
JJA Kiefte says:
How can you know that this is a compilation of Delius's best miniatures if you haven't heard them all?
How can you know you do not need any more Delius if you haven't heard the Florida Suite?

In reply to an earlier post on 28 May 2011 10:46:13 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Jun 2011 22:45:13 BDT
Ralph Moore says:
The "Florida Suite" is of course one of Delius's earlier, larger works and could be considered something other than a miniature and as such not within the ambit of my review, especially if it is, as Mr Mannering suggests, somewhat "atypical". Another reviewer gushes, "Frederick Delius' "Florida Suite" has got to be among the finest compositions of all time." Hmmm. Having listened to it now, however, it seems to me to be rather typical of the composer in that it is sometimes a bit wan and wandering but often charming, mostly in bucolic mood with the usual exotic touches - to damn it with faint praise, "really quite nice". I'll leave exalting it to its fans.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jul 2012 16:28:21 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Jul 2012 16:33:03 BDT
Robert Jones says:
I see that you describe yourself as an 'operaphile'. Well, may I recommend a very great opera? I am referring to Delius's 'A Village Romeo and Juliet'. It is full of the most ravishingly beautiful music and the recording from 1971, conducted by Meredith Davies, sounds very good indeed now that it has been re-mastered. The cast is stellar (Luxon, Tear, Harwood, Shirley-Quirk, Palmer, Varcoe, Walker etc.) and the whole thing is just a feast of wonderful music. Try it, you won't be disappointed. 'Fennimore and Gerda' is worth listening to as is the Groves recording of 'Koanga'. Actually, they aren't just worth listening to - they are splendid.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jul 2012 17:40:32 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Jul 2012 17:49:34 BDT
Ralph Moore says:
Thank you for the recommendation(s); I am always open to trying somehing new as long as I think it will fall within my taste - or that my taste can expand to encompass it. I'll give it a go and come back to you some time. (The problem is, I have a strong aversion to Robert Tear's tenor which I hear as very throaty and constricted.)

Posted on 3 Jun 2013 07:11:06 BDT
Fenlander says:
I've owned this disc for some years but it was only recently that I transferred it to my iPod. When I put it into the computer, I found that iTunes showed the conductor of each track to be Yuri Simonov, current director of the Moscow Philharmonic. I know little about how CDs are produced but I do recall that the deceptions perpetrated by Joyce Hatto and her husband were exposed when the digital information displayed on the CD player named pianists other than Miss Hatto. I suppose that in the case of this disc, there's been a genuine error somewhere but I'd still like to know who actually conducted these pieces.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2013 10:49:45 BDT
Last edited by the author on 3 Jun 2013 10:51:32 BDT
Ralph Moore says:
Colin, I'm pretty sure that's a fault with the iPod ID bank not the original disc; this also happens sometimes when you insert a disc into Windows Media, for example. But of course you are right to be wary of such things post-Hatto. I am in favour of blind listening and reviewing - my own ventures into this have been both reassuring and revealing.
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Location: Bishop's Stortford, UK

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