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This performance preceeds Beecham's revised and edited version of the score which appeared in 1951, but clearly includes the many little revisions and corrections made to the original Harmonie edition published in Berlin -- I have a treasured copy littered with Delius's neat red ink amendments. It is one of four recordings on this disc that were made in the composer's lifetime: On hearing the first cuckoo in spring and Walk to the Paradise Garden, recorded in 1927, excited the composer's enthusiasm for Beecham as 'the one authority as to how my music should be played ...' In spite of the old surface noise, a few clicks and the mono quality, it is still possible to relish the affection in these performances, and in the Brigg Fair recording of a year later.

The other four pieces on the disc were recorded for HMV in 1945, and come over rather more clearly. Two of the North Country Sketches, the peaceful 'Autumn' and more frosty 'Winter Landcape' are followed by the jolly naivety of A Song before Sunrise, written for Philip Heseltine. The final piece recorded at that October session at Abbey Road was the Second Dance Rhapsody, a bright performance, slightly overbalanced in places, with a strangely altered (or accidental?) cymbal part in the last climactic outburst before the end. This was dedicated to Norman O'Neill, a composer who wrote much for the theatre, but whose concert work (to which Delius was kindly disposed) deserves to be heard more. Altogether this is a very worthy CD, remastered with due care to following Beecham's detailed comments on the original test pressings, and of as much musical as historical interest.

Copyright © 24 July 2002 Patric Standford, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, UK


The Beecham Collection - Frederic Delius - Brigg Fair, Sea Drift etc

SOMM-BEECHAM 10 ADD Mono REISSUE 74'45" 2001 SOMM Recordings

Dennis Noble, baritone; Manchester Beecham Opera Chorus; Symphony Orchestra; Orchestra of the Royal Philharmonic Society; London Symphony Orchestra; London Philharmonic Orchestra; Sir Thomas Beecham, Bart, C H, conductor

Brigg Fair; On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring; The Walk to the Paradise Garden (from A Village Romeo and Juliet); Sea Drift; Autumn and Winter (North Country Sketches); A Song before Sunrise; A Dance Rhapsody No 2



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