Thursday, May 11, 2017

Frederick Delius - Orchestral Works (Thomas Beecham)


Composer: Frederick Delius
  1. Brigg Fair (An English Rhapsody)
  2. Dance Rhapsody No. 2
  3. 2 Pieces for Small Orchestra: 1. On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring
  4. 2 Pieces for Small Orchestra: 2. Summer Night On The River
  5. A Song before Sunrise
  6. Fennimore and Gerda, opera: Intermezzo
  7. Irmelin Prelude
  8. 3 Small Tone Poems: 2. Winter Night (Sleigh Ride)
  9. 3 Small Tone Poems: 1. Summer Evening
  10. Florida Suite: 1. Daybreak - Dance

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Thomas Beecham, conductor
Date: 1958
Label: EMI




Perhaps Thomas Beecham wasn’t a “great” conductor in the cosmic scheme of things, but he could bring certain composers’ music to life in a way that few have equalled, and in Delius at least, his performances seldom have been eclipsed. That’s why you should hear this disc: the regular Delius favorites are all here, and the recordings have an aura of mastery that makes you feel that little could go wrong with Beecham on the podium. The rhapsody Brigg Fair, the most substantial piece here, unfolds so expressively and ardently that you’re immediately captivated by the mellifluous playing Beecham draws from his orchestra. That’s not to suggest that his mid-1950s Royal Philharmonic was the equal of the BBC Symphony under Andrew Davis on its 1992 Teldec recording–rather that in this work, as in most by Delius, Beecham usually could conjure something from the ether that others only glimpse dimly in their own recordings.

The rest of the program, including the exultant daybreak scene from the Florida Suite (in Beecham’s revision) comprises smaller pieces, such as the atmospheric First Cuckoo and Summer Night on the River, and the bewitching Irmelin prelude. Every performance has identical qualities of natural, unforced expressivity, reflecting Beecham’s symbiotic understanding of this composer. EMI’s transfers invest these mid-’50s masters with adequate clarity and depth, and even if you’d normally side-step English romanticism, you shouldn’t miss this reissue.

-- ClassicsToday

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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.


Thomas Beecham (29 April 1879 – 8 March 1961) was an English conductor and impresario, and a major influence on the musical life of Britain in 20th century. In 1932, together with Malcolm Sargent, Beecham founded the London Philharmonic, and he conducted its first performance at the Queen's Hall in 1932. In 1946, he founded the Royal Philharmonic and conducted it until his death in 1961. Beecham preferred making records to giving concerts. His EMI recordings have been continually reissued on LP and CD.


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