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Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
Arranged for piano four hands by Peter WARLOCK (Philip Heseltine) (1894-1934)
On hearing the first Cuckoo in spring (1911/12, arr. 1913/14) [5.42]
Summer Night on the River (1911/12, arr. 1913.14) [5.29]
In a Summer Garden (1908/11, arr. 1912/13) [11.02]
A Song before Sunrise (1918, arr. 1921) [4.33]
North Country Sketches (1913/14, arr. 1921) [25.46]
Dance Rhapsody No. 1 (1908, arr. 1913) [11.13]
Dance Rhapsody No. 2 (1916, arr. 1921) [7.27]
Noriko Ogawa and Kathryn Stott, piano
Rec. October 2002, Danderyd Grammar School, Sweden. DDD
BIS-CD-1347 [71.12]

 

When I read the disc title, "Frederick Delius, arrangements for piano four hands", my initial thought was to doubt the success of such a feat. After all Deliusís music is surely inextricably bound to the orchestra with its lush harmonies and sonorities. However, as the album played, I found myself entranced by the beauty and flow of the performances by pianists Noriko Ogawa and Kathryn Stott. Later, I became engrossed with the substantial amount of information in the liner notes supplied by Robert Threlfall.

The majority of Deliusís arrangements for piano four hands are credited to composer, author and musicologist Philip Heseltine, who went by the name of Peter Warlock. Born in London in 1894, Heseltine became fascinated with Deliusís work in his childhood. After an introduction and constant correspondence, the two became friends until Heseltineís death in 1930. It was his wish early on to create arrangements of Deliusís orchestral music. Delius was "someone he regarded as a great English composer." Heseltine believed in the power of piano reductions as a means of reaching a larger audience.

On hearing the first Cuckoo in spring is probably Deliusís most famous work for orchestra. It is based on a Norwegian melody, which had been previously employed by Edvard Grieg. Summer Night on the River depicts the flowing river by Deliusís garden. In a Summer Garden draws its inspiration from the very same garden and the performance is impressive maintaining an expressive musical flow as well as attentiveness to precision. The performance of A Song before Sunrise is by far the most dramatic of any on this disc. The work was composed in 1918 and dedicated to Heseltine, who completed the piano arrangement three years later, in 1921. I have to admit I was unfamiliar with Deliusís North Country Sketches, but having heard the arrangement, I am quite eager to hear the original four-movement suite for orchestra. The movement titles are Autumn (the wind soughs in the trees), Winter Landscape, Dance (mazurka tempo), and The March of Spring (Woodlands, meadows and silent moors). What stood out in North Country Sketches is the third movement and the performersí power of dynamic projection. Dance Rhapsody No. 1 and Dance Rhapsody No. 2 are two flamboyant pieces performed here with an almost unyielding fervor for excitement.

It is the careful attention to detail by Heseltine and the aggressive musical drive by Ogawa and Stott, which makes this album a must-buy.

Christopher Tucker

 

 


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