Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
Romance (1896) [6:27]
Chanson d’Automne (1911) arr. John York [2:26]
Cello Sonata (1916) [13:37]
Caprice (1930) [2:47]
Elegy (1930) [4:29]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Intermezzo (1866) [4:00]
Allegretto (1887) [6:51]
Cello Sonata in A minor, Op.36 (1883) [27:47]
Raphael Wallfisch (cello)
John York (piano)
rec. November 2011, Wyastone Leys, Monmouth
NIMBUS NI 5884 [68:24]
This is the second time that Raphael Wallfisch has recorded Delius’s 1916 Cello Sonata. The earlier recording, with his father Peter, was for Chandos (CHAN8499) and included works by Bax, Bridge and Walton. This time Wallfisch has constructed a Delius and Grieg programme, which widens the focus beyond British music and rightly, thereby, celebrates the friendship between the two composers.
He and York convey Delian flux very well, ensuring that the work’s architecture isn’t imperilled by too discursive a view, something I think sometimes happened with the last performance I heard of the sonata, by Paul and Huw Watkins. Wallfisch’s latest recordings is somewhat slower than his more ardent Chandos reading, which mirrored the first ever recording of the sonata, by dedicatee Beatrice Harrison and Harold Craxton, but timings don’t always tell the story in Delius as long as there is continuity of thought and phraseology, as there is here. In fact I detect a touch more melancholy in this new performance. You will also find some other Delius. The 1896 Romance is an early not yet fully distinctive work, whilst Chanson d’Automne has been arranged by John York from a song, and makes a nice addition. The Caprice and Elegy were again written for Harrison, and indeed recorded by her with an unnamed orchestra conducted by Eric Fenby in 1930. The Elegy is certainly a representative example of late Delius. The Wallfisch/York team plays all these smaller pieces with thorough understanding and fine tonal resources.
They play the Grieg Sonata in A minor with acute perception as to its sense of line, bringing a necessary sense of dynamism from the first bars, but relaxing the tension for the lyrical episodes. This they do with natural legato and a mixture of phrasal perception and tonal shading and colour. In this York proves a most effective ally, matching Wallfisch him step by step, leading the chordal assertiveness with controlled fire that doesn’t overstep stylistic boundaries. They respond to some of the more agitated passages of the slow movement with real passion and deal similarly with the self-assertion in the finale as well as the little folkloric musings, especially when the piano has the delicate lead, the cello accompanying in pizzicati.
The 1866 Intermezzo is a brief but attractive morceau and the Allegretto that followed a year later is the composer’s transcription, a little altered, of the similar movement from his final and most successful Violin Sonata.
This is a most successful disc, excellently engineered, and annotated.
Jonathan Woolf
This is a most successful disc, excellently engineered, and annotated.