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Brigg Fair / Dance Rhapsody 2 / Summer Evening Original recording remastered

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x95b78f48) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95b8b408) out of 5 stars Beecham's Autumnal Delius 31 Mar. 2002
By Thomas F. Bertonneau - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
With no composer was Sir Thomas Beecham more closely associated than with Frederick Delius: Beecham made his first 78RPM documentation of Delius in the middle 1920s just after the invention of the electrical process; he recorded Delius throughout the period of electrical stylus engraving, continued to do so in the "hi-fi" years of the monophonic long-playing record, and made what were probably the first stereo recordings of Delius in the late 1950s and early 1960s, for EMI. The EMI stereo recordings have rarely, if ever, been out of the catalogue. They appeared initially in the United States in the late 1960s on the Seraphim label, on two LPs. EMI reissued them as a two-CD boxed set in the middle 1980s, and the current, semi-budget edition compiles the best of the older two-CD anthology, reworking the balances just a bit, and making them available at a lower price than previously. The highlight of the program is the wonderful, autumnal performance of "Brigg Fair: An English Rhapsody," a work that Beecham committed to platters three times (in 1928, 1947, and, as here, in 1958). While the music of Delius does not absolutely demand stereo, it certainly benefits from it; the subtleties of orchestral color, the impression of depth so important to an evocation of landscape, the related representation of distance (as noted by Christopher Palmer in his study of the composer) - all of these become more vivid, and more vitally contribute to the living whole, in stereo. Let it be said that however accomplished conductors of later generations have been in their dedication to Delius, none has ever surpassed Beecham: the gentle rocking of the flute and harp in the opening bars of "Brigg Fair" sounds like the rolling countryside itself in warm pastels; the peroration in brass toward the end of the same work blazes for a moment before the music subsides back into its original quietness. The timing (15.51) is comparable with that of Beecham's pioneering 1928 performance (available on Naxos) and shows that the lambent atmosphere is not dependent on a retardation of the pace. The two "sketches," "On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring" and "Summer Night on the River," here receive their definitive recordings. (Only Barbirolli, also on EMI, comes close.) Beecham brings to life the two other miniatures, "A Song before Sunrise" and "Summer Evening," with the same deft magic; in the less characteristic "Dance Rhapsody No. 2" he knows how to mark the rhythms and does a more effective job than Eric Fenby did on a now deleted Unicorn CD. This is a splendid CD for those curious about Delius who might want an introduction to the autumnal realm. I can detect little difference in sound between this disc and its previous CD re-mastering for the boxed set. The original recordings represented the state of the art for their time and have always sounded as warm as Sir Thomas must have intended them to be.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95b8b45c) out of 5 stars Classic & Sensuosly Loving.... 6 Oct. 2012
By David C. Young - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
In the 1960's, at a small college and majoring in music, I remember first hearing Delius: several LP's recorded by Sir Thomas Beecham. I still recall being transfixed. I'd never heard anything like it. (I came from an even smaller town, and our college didn't have a big LP library or much 20th music. Our family had no radio and few records.) I listened to those recordings over & over.

Since then, whenever I can hear Delius -- sadly, not often live -- I seize the chance. There are other great Delius performances: Barbirolli especially comes to mind. But I keep coming back to Beecham. And I don't believe it's just "first love".

"Nobody seemed to know what to make of it," Beecham once said, referring to Delius before Beecham began his performances and recordings. "I found it as alluring as a wayward woman, and I determined to tame it. And it wasn't done in a day!" Beecham doesn't just "get" this music; he loves it, and he loves it sensuously. Now a half-century after his last recordings -- fortunately in stereo -- we can love Delius sensuously with him. In "Briggs Fair", "On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring", "Summar Night on the River", "A Song before Sunrise", "Summer Evening", Beecham and his orchestra swoon flawlessly -- at just the right time, in just the right way. Beecham not only loves this music, he gets his orchestra to love it with him.

EMI is right: these are some of the great recordings of the 20th century. If you have other Delius recordings, treat yourself and have these, too. If you've never heard Delius or if you're buying your first CDs, start here. There will be more great performances of Delius. But they'll always be measured against Beecham and, at best, they'll stand with him.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b3851a4) out of 5 stars Inimitable 25 Aug. 2008
By David Saemann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a release of considerable historic importance. Sir Thomas Beecham was Delius's greatest champion, without whom this music might have languished without attention. Beecham conducting Delius was always a tour de force, never more so than here with his Royal Philharmonic, an orchestra whose attention to the subtleties of symphonic expression never has been surpassed. Unfortunately, only the first movement of the Florida Suite has been given, leading me to believe that the whole work is not to be given a full remastering. I have the Seraphim LP of the complete piece, and am convinced it is one of the unheralded masterpieces of the 19th Century--and Beecham's advocacy of it could not be improved upon. Luckily, there are fine digital versions of the work by Boughton, Lloyd-Jones, and Mackerras. As for the rest of the album, it is Beecham in clover. I have some favorite moments. The Dance Rhapsody No. 2 is inexpressively sprightly, and the Irmelin Prelude is even better than Barbirolli's fine version. Sleighride is appropriately wistful, and On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring is effortlessly evocative. The sound engineering, from 1956-7, is generally effective in portraying the orchestra's textures, although I did notice one or two cases when the tuttis were compressed. If you've never heard Delius's music, or if you're looking for a good way to add to your Beecham holdings, this must be an essential disc.
11 of 55 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95b8b6e4) out of 5 stars Delius Orchestral Works 27 Aug. 2005
By Eileen J. Terry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Lackluster performance. Poorly engineered, need to constantly adjust volume to listen to music.
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