are gorgeous performances and recordings of Delius favourites
played unaffectedly yet con molto
amore. They also have the benefit
of finely graduated digital sound from 1989 taken down in
a kindly acoustic.
the second time recently I find myself qualifying my prejudices
in relation to Richard Hickox – about all-purpose conveyor
belt revivals of British music. If there was ever any truth
in that ignorant generalisation it is refuted by the evidence
he produces here in honeyed warm sound and caring legato.
The highlights in the harps, woodwind and percussion are
superbly caught in the glinting sun of the engineer’s control
panel and microphone placement in Wessex Hall. That Hickox
achieves this in that graveyard of conducting reputations
where Beecham is still an asphyxiating competitive presence
in the catalogue is all the more wonderful.
urge you to try the most seductive movements of the Florida
Suite – By the River and
the ‘shortening bread’ Danza of Sunset - for
evidence. The Pine Tree town orchestra’s wind soloists have
plentiful opportunities to shine and continue to do so in
the winding miasmic prelude to Paris – magically done although as a work
it is not the most potent of Delius pieces and Beecham’s
version on Sony is well worth hearing - mono and all. Interesting
to compare the mists out of which the seductive and for Delius
ultimately fatal city arises with those that cloak Vaughan
Williams’ A London Symphony – also recorded
by Hickox for Chandos. Paris was
written and premiered by Hans Haym in Elberfeld as was Appalachia and
the Piano Concerto. Haym was also the dedicatee of Paris.
Fair is again most warmly and affectionately shaped and recorded and can
stand confidently alongside the various Beecham versions. Brigg Fair is dedicated to Percy Grainger
who provided his own choral arrangement of the folk song.
The Delius piece had the honour of being premiered by the
composer Granville Bantock and the Liverpool Orchestral
Society in 1908.
ideally complementary liner-notes are by Lyndon Jenkins.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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