Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
The complete Delius songbook Ė volume 1
Seven Songs from the Norwegian (1889-1890)
Four Old English Lyrics (1915-1916)
11 Early Songs-Norwegian (1885-1898) (Over the Mountains High; Mountain Life)
They are not long, the weeping and the laughter (1906)
Little birdie (1913)
Songs to Words by Various Poets (1910) (The Nightingale has a lyre of gold (1910); I-Brasil (1913))
Four Posthumous Songs (1890-1893) (In the forest; I once had a newly cut willow pipe)
Three Songs, the Words by Shelley (1891)
Five Songs from the Norwegian (1888)
Mark Stone (baritone); Stephen Barlow (piano)
rec. 30 August-1 September and 9 December 2010, Music Room, Champs Hill, West Sussex. DDD
Complete tracklist at end review
STONE RECORDS 5060192780062 [79:01]

Most of Deliusí sixty-plus songs were written in the early part of his career, before the works by which he is best known. Nevertheless several are famous and the totality of songs occupies an important place in his output. They are written in several languages, with only thirteen being in English. This disc Ė the first of two - features most of the early Norwegian songs as well as several of the English ones.

Deliusí Seven Songs from the Norwegian contains several of his best-known works in this genre, including Twilight Fancies, Young Venevil, and The Birdís Story. The last of these is the most Delian in style and puts to rest the idea that the composer was anything but English. Most of the rest are more Grieg-like, although The Homeward Way is notable for its harmony.

The rest of the Norwegian songs on this disc date from slightly earlier in the composerís output. The earliest are the Five Songs from the Norwegian. These are rather ordinary, although Summer Eve is charming and Longing shows the influence of the composer Halfdan Kjerulf. The composerís earliest surviving song, Over the Mountains, was written during his years in Florida and will probably remind listeners of the better-known Florida Suite. Mountain Life, written three years later is, like The Homeward Way, notable for its harmony. The two selections from Four Posthumous Songs, although written in Norwegian, date from Deliusí first years in France.

Among the English songs we have the three early Shelley songs, which are dramatic, but otherwise similar to their Norwegian counterparts. Of later provenance are the Four Old English Lyrics, written during the composerís residence in England during the First World War. Unlike the previously mentioned works these are products of the composerís maturity and are the equal of the fine chamber works he was composing at this time. It Was a lover and his lass is an appropriately languorous setting of Shakespeareís words, while Jonsonís So white, so soft, so sweet is she is even more expressive. Spring, the sweet spring (Nashe) and the well-know To Daffodils (Herrick) are near-perfect settings of their texts, as are I-Brasil and The Nightingale has a Lyre of gold.

Mark Stone is rising fast in the ranks of baritones and has been heard in opera on both sides of the Atlantic. He has a powerful and affecting voice and puts a lot of thought into his conception of each song. His stated intention is to record all the Delius songs and this is good news as no other complete edition is currently available, although Yvonne Kennyís disc of about half the songs on Hyperion provides worthy competition. As can be seen from the above Mr. Stone is his own producer and has his own record label. He has developed an innovative business model in which he first announces music to be recorded and then seeks funding. See his website for upcoming projects [see site].

William Kreindler

The first volume of what looks to be the definitive traversal of Deliusí songs.

Twilight fancies
Young Venevil
Hidden love
The minstrel
The birds' story
Cradle song
The homeward way
It was a lover and his lass
So white, so soft, so sweet is she
Spring, the sweet spring
To daffodils
Over the mountains high
Mountain life
They are not long, the weeping and the laughter
Little birdie
The nightingale has a lyre of gold
In the forest
I once had a newly cut willow pipe
Indian love song
Love's philosophy
To the queen of my heart
Slumber song
The nightingale
Summer eve