Over the Hills and Far Away
Paris - Song of a Great City
Bruce Boyce (bar)
BBC Chorus/Leslie Woodgate
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra /Sir Thomas Beecham
rec 7 Feb 1950 (Over the Hills); Aug 1955 (Paris); 23 April, 2-3 Dec
1954 (Sea Drift).
SONY CLASSICAL SMK89430
Beecham working with the RPO captures in that characteristically warm modern
sound the sunny restless restfulness of Delius.
These are prized recordings and are not new to CD. CBS (in one case just
before Sony's appearance on the scene) put out three disks in disparate series.
Masterworks Portrait gave us Hassan, with Sea Drift and
Arabesque on MPK 47680 in 1991. Sony British Pageant in 1993 gave
us Over the Hills, North Country Sketches, Eventyr and
Koanga's Closing Scene on SMK58934. This came out on a 1993 Sony Essential
Classics with Berners and Arnell.
I am not at all sure that I prefer Beecham's Paris over Mackerras's
on CD-EMX 2185 but it is a sensitive account of a work which has more than
its fair share of nodding moments. Things are quite different in Sea Drift
where everyone seems equal to the demands of the score and where Boyce
can be relied on to touch the wellspings of tears in this affecting Whitman
hymn to loneliness and bereft joys. Over the Hills written in the
wake of a thoroughly violent Norwegian storm is an evocation of the faerylands
If you want to capture the Delius Beecham alchemy in sound better than the
Naxos 1930s recordings this is where to go. How tragic that Beecham did not
record Song of the High Hills in the 1950s sessions.
Good notes and design points. A bit short on playing time at under an hour
but the performances are distilled enchantment.