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Friday, May 12, 2017

Frederick Delius - Double Concerto; Violin Concerto; Cello Concerto (Tasmin Little; Paul Watkins)


Composer: Frederick Delius
  • (01-05) Concerto for violin & cello
  • (06-11) Violin Concerto
  • (12-18) Cello Concerto

Tasmin Little, violin (1-11)
Paul Watkins, cello (1-5, 12-18)
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Andrew Davis, conductor

Date: 2011
Label: Chandos



Some two decades ago Tasmin Little set down memorable versions of both the Violin Concerto and Double Concerto with Sir Charles Mackerras at the helm (for Argo and EMI Eminence respectively). Clearly the intervening years have not diminished her abundant love for and entrancing empathy with this glorious repertoire. Not only does she surmount every technical hurdle with ease, her tone remains wonderfully pure and heart-warmingly expressive. Little’s partnership with Paul Watkins strikes me as an especial success; indeed, theirs is the most tenderly lyrical and raptly spontaneous performance of the Double Concerto to have yet come my way (and I do not forget the considerable claims of Little’s own earlier recording with Raphael Wallfisch). In the Cello Concerto Watkins resuscitates all except two bars of Delius’s altogether more challenging original edition of the solo part. Suffice it to say, he brings a wealth of profound musicality, ardour and insight to bear, making his an interpretation to cherish and one to which I can already see myself returning many times.

Some listeners might quibble with Davis’s slightly forceful treatment of the Violin Concerto’s introductory bars (a muscular forte rather than the mf marked in my copy of the miniature score), but it’s indicative of the strength of purpose that courses through his beautifully prepared readings – achieved, I should add, without any lack of fragrant poetry, elegant proportion or instinctive ebb and flow. The orchestral playing is commendably poised throughout, Chandos’s SACD sound airy, rich and glowing. No self-respecting Delian can afford to be without this indispensable issue.

-- Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: ****


Frederick Delius (29 January 1862 – 10 June 1934) was an English composer who forged a unique version of the Impressionist musical language of the early twentieth century. The lyricism in Delius's early compositions reflected the music he had heard in America and the influences of European composers such as Edvard Grieg and Richard Wagner. As his skills matured, he developed a style uniquely his own, characterised by his individual orchestration and his uses of chromatic harmony. After WWII, Delius' fame began to spread, due in large part to the efforts of Thomas Beecham, who championed Delius' music.


Tasmin Little (born 13 May 1965 in London) is an English classical violinist. She is best known and widely acclaimed as a concerto soloist, and also performs as a recitalist and chamber musician. Her first professional performance as a soloist was in 1988 with The Hallé. She made her first appearance at the BBC Proms in 1990, and has appeared regularly since. Little has been an exponent of the works of composer Frederick Delius throughout her career. She has released multiple albums, winning the Critics Award at the Classic Brit Awards in 2011 for her recording of Elgar's Violin Concerto.


Paul Watkins (born 1970) is a Welsh classical cellist and conductor. Watkins studied cello with William Pleeth, Melissa Phelps and Johannes Goritzki. From 1990 to 1997, he was principal cellist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Watkins joined the Emerson String Quartet in the 2013-14 season, replacing the departing cellist David Finckel. He was previously a cellist with the Nash Ensemble. As a conductor, Watkins has been music director of the English Chamber Orchestra since 2009, and has recorded for the Warner Classics label. Watkins plays on a cello made by Domenico Montagnana and Matteo Goffriller, c 1730.


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