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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



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Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
Violin Concerto (1916)
Piano Concerto (1899)
Caprice and Elegy (1930)
On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring (1912)
Brigg Fair (1905)
London SO/Anthony Collins (Brigg Fair)
Julian Lloyd Webber/Bengt Forsberg (Caprice; Elegy)
Jean-Rodolphe Kars (piano)
London SO/Alexander Gibson (Piano Concerto)
Tasmin Little (violin)
Orchestra Welsh National Opera/Charles Mackerras (Violin Concerto, Cuckoo)
rec 1953 (Brigg Fair); 1969 (Piano); 1990 (Cuckoo); 1991 (violin); 1996 Two Pieces. ADD/DDD
DECCA British Music Collection 470 190-2 [77.25]

Repertoire-wise this complements the double disc Delius collection in the same series. It shares the same blend of faults and favours. On the positive side is a voluptuously recorded and interpreted Violin Concerto from Tasmin Little. This derives from the extensive Delius recordings done by the Welsh National Opera orchestra with Charles Mackerras in the 1990s.

The Piano Concerto is a really early piece with a flavour of the Liszt Second Piano Concerto rather than offering presentiments of the languid Delius. This work has more to do with Grieg's Piano Concerto than with Delius's later concertos. Kars glitters and coruscates. There are a few sentimental moments such as at 2.47. It has been the done thing to slight this early work but in fact it is a pretty creditable romantic essay which goes through all the right motions and has something about it. This is a work that has suffered because it was not the Delius everyone expects. Just take it at face value. If it had been written by some obscure Norwegian romantic we would have been more open-minded!

The cello trifles are pleasant and certainly far more in character than the Piano Concerto. Brigg Fair sounds antiquated again though Collins' exegesis is well worth hearing. These are certainly not time-serving readings. Hiss and distanced effects coupled with the intrinsic fragility of the sound makes this version a make-weight rather than a safe single recommendation.

Reasonable English-only notes.

Mixed bag with the two concertos (the Piano Concerto atypical of the Delius we know so well) being the pillars. The cello pieces are inconsequential though skilfully done and the Cuckoo wholly characteristic of the Mackerras Argo series.

Rob Barnett


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