These are all arrangements by hands other than
the composer's apart from the one piece that is not by Delius
- i.e. Whitlock's pensive Carol - no wassailling here.
I am not at all sure that Delius would have
approved of the transformation to organ - an instrument with
stifling antipathetic Anglican associations. That said Michael
Stairs handles the music as well as the organ permits and, after
all, the organ is capable of a much closer approach to orchestral
sound especially in the strings and woodwind than is the piano
(see the other DTR collection also reviewed
on this site).
An obbligato of jingling sleigh bells accompanies
the Sleigh Ride (famously recorded by Beecham in the
orchestral version). The notes explain that this arrangement
was made direct from the famous Beecham recording. The lively
glitter of La Calinda is extremely welcome among so much
predominantly slow music. The Two Aquarelles work well
and the first would certainly make a rather equable recessional.
Much the same can be said of most of these meditative pieces.
Stairs rather rushes the Hassan Serenade, I feel, but
paces the Paradise Garden Walk much better.
Dom Gregory Murray (1905-1992) spent most of
his life as a monastic organist at Downside College. Robert
Hebble was a close associate of Virgil Fox. There is a Fenby
organ arrangement of the Cuckoo but Stairs preferred
that by Ernest White (1900-1980).
The supportive booklet notes are by Bill Marsh.
This is not as successful an enterprise as
the DTR piano disc. Does the warbling and cloying tone of the
organ (not just this organ, by the way) suit Delius? I think
not. Maybe this is for organists who happen to be Delius enthusiasts
or vice versa.