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Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
Violin Sonatas:-Sonata in B major for violin and piano, Op. Posth. (1892) Sonata No. 1 for violin and piano (1905-14)Sonata No. 2 for violin and piano (1922-23)
Sonata No. 3 for violin and piano (1918 -24) Tasmin Little (violin) Piers Lane (violin) Recorded in 1997. No details of recording venue provided.
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)
Works for Orchestra:- Suite for Strings (1909) There is a willow grows aslant a brook (1927) Incidental music from: The Two Hunchbacks (1910) Threads; Rosemary; Canzonetta; Berceuse;Serenade Britten Sinfonia/Nicholas Cleobury
Recorded in 1997. No details of recording venue provided. RCA RED SEAL 74321 987082 [76:35+63:01

RCA Red Seal have reached into their back-catalogue for Bridge and Delius works previously issued on Conifer Classics to considerable critical acclaim. This double CD set is a French release in the RCA Red Seal Artistes Répertoire Series without English translations. With my schoolboy French I was still able to spot several factual errors and spelling mistakes in the annotation; which seems sloppy presentation. The gate-fold card sleeve has a strange-looking cover design which looks like it could be a page from an embroidery magazine merged curiously together with a head and shoulders photograph of an unknown woman. It certainly isn’t Tasmin Little! In spite of a cobbled-together impression the release contains wonderful music excellently performed and recorded.

The first disc contains the four Delius sonatas for violin and piano. The chamber works of Delius are often ignored in favour of his larger-scale orchestral tone-poems. However these four sonatas are wonderful examples of Delius’s art. They are moody, rhapsodic, containing rich tapestries of sensual and subtle textures with touches of impressionism. Sometimes wistful and sometimes ecstatic, I have heard these sonatas described as being, “Delius at his most meltingly lyrical”, a mood that Tasmin Little and Piers Lane so expertly convey to the listener. Their expressive playing is of the highest quality giving a sense of ‘time suspended‘. Little’s violin has a really beautiful tone and Lane plays most sympathetically. It is hard to imagine these works played better.

Described by eminent music writer Mark Morris as, “…an innovative and introverted composer…” the orchestral works of Frank Bridge are becoming increasingly better known both in the concert hall and the recording studio. A selection of Bridge’s lighter works and miniatures for strings or small orchestra are contained on the second disc. They are superbly performed by the Britten Sinfonia under Nicholas Cleobury. Of the eight works the most substantial is the appealing Suite for Strings that Bridge composed in 1909. There is a willow grows aslant a brook from 1927 and the Incidental music from: The Two Hunchbacks composed in 1910 are clearly significant and important scores. The remaining five works: Threads, Rosemary, Canzonetta, Berceuse and Serenade are vignettes, short in duration yet extremely attractive. Nicholas Cleobury is a sensitive Bridge interpreter conducting warm, tender and sensuous performances from the Britten Sinfonia.

With warm and enticing interpretations this is a release reminding me of ‘summer sunshine’. Splendid performances excellently recorded makes this a most desirable set.

Michael Cookson

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