> Delius Organ DTR9801 [RB]: Classical Reviews- April 2002 MusicWeb-International

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Piano Concertos 1 and 2
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A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

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Frederick DELIUS
The Paradise Garden - A Delius Organ Album

A Song Before Sunrise; Two Aquarelles; Homage to Delius (arr Dom Gregory Murray [9.25, 4.54]
Serenade - Hassan; Prelude - Irmelin (arr Eric Fenby) [2.11; 5.37]
Winter Night - Sleigh Ride; Intermezzo - Fennimore and Gerda; Walk to the Paradise Garden - A Village Romeo and Juliet (arr Robert Hebble) [6.18]
On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring (arr Ernest White) [7.17]
La Calinda (arr Michael Stairs) [4.51]

Percy WHITLOCK Carol from Four Extemporisations [4.35]
Michael Stairs (organ)
Longwood Gardens Organ
rec 27 Oct 1997 (Song, Intermezzo, Serenade), 12 Jan 1987, Longwood Gardens Music Room, Kennett Square, PA, USA, DDD
DIRECT-TO-TAPE DTR9801 [70.40]


Experience Classicsonline

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.

Rob Barnett


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