Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
Florida Suite: Daybreak - Dance; By the River; Sunset - Near the
North Country Sketches: Autumn; Winter Landscape; Dance; The March of
On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring*
London Philharmonic Orchestra*
Conducted by Vernon
CHANDOS CHAN 6628 [77:42]
This is a reissue the recordings were made in 1984 and
USA Lower mid-price
Vernon Handley proves he is a most sympathetic interpreter of Delius's music
in this generously filled album. These are performances of considerable
His leisurely paced readings reveal a multitude of little felicities that
make these evocations of Florida come alive. Daybreak dawns hushed and gently
fluttering with gossamer filigrees of sound, and pianissimo birdsong, until
the pace quickens to the Dance - Delius's well-known 'La Calinda', here occupying
a fine balance between delicacy and sinew. 'By the River', the second movement,
brings the day forward - probably to midday - and one can imagine Florida
in siesta, everything drowsy and languid; a leisurely perspective with one
of Delius's lovely tunes, almost a lullaby, meandering its way through to
the accompaniment of softly droning insects.
'Sunset' and the music depicts all its radiance, colours muted; then, softly,
slowly, a dance picks up, growing in passion and urgency before falling back
into the stillness of late evening. Soft tremolo strings and distancing horns
with higher woodwinds beautify 'At Night' the concluding movement that brings
the day's cycle to its conclusion. Handley's nocturnal picture is magical;
rarely has that lovely horn melody been so full of yearning and nostalgia.
North Country Sketches belongs to the less exotic Yorkshire Moors
portrayed here through the seasons. 'Autumn' begins almost in stillness before
a breeze, strengthening, strips and strews leaves. Muted, almost dejected
birdsong, mourns the passing of the year and the whole is wrapped in a sepia
glow. Moaning winds close the movement and usher in a chill 'Winter Landscape'
with icy crystalline ostinatos; Delius's frosty beauty evoking a landscape
bleached white and blurry under driven snow. Inside their homes people snuggle
in the warmth and enjoy a Dance to cheer them until the 'March of Spring'
which Delius heralds with appropriate cheeriness, colour and pomp (although
with his usual cautionary note that even Spring's joy and beauty is but
The album is completed with a delightful reading of Delius's popular On Hearing
the First Cuckoo in Spring and the less well-known but charming Air and Dance
dating from 1915 and dedicated to the National Institute for the Blind.