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CD Review

Frederick Delius

The Beecham Collection

  • Rhapsody "Brigg Fair"
  • Sea Drift for Baritone, Chorus & Orchestra
  • A Song before Sunrise
  • A Dance Rhapsody #2
  • North Country Sketches
  • On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring
London Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Beecham
SOMM Beecham 10 75m ADD
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You cannot fail to be without any Delius by Sir Thomas Beecham in your collection, if you are a committed Delian that is. Sir Thomas brought an inimitable sense of momentum and flow to the music; such was his complete affinity with the composer's invention and ideas.

This 'Brigg Fair' is marvellously effusive and brilliantly executed whilst the miniature 'On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring' has never been so lovingly done, except in Sir Thomas legendary stereo remake. A lovely 'Walk to the Paradise Garden' is also demonstrative of Sir Thomas' love and affection for the famous opera 'A Village, Roméo and Juliet' (also reviewed in these pages). However, the classic recording on this disc must be the legendary Sea Drift with Dennis Noble and the Manchester Beecham Opera Chorus making some haunting sounds. It is almost like a window on the past, the Whitman texts are uncannily brought to life in a way in which no other conductor could. The excerpts from North Country Sketches are also unique as this is the only recording apart from the 1951 Sony recordings which are also excellent. Finally we have the beautiful Dance Rhapsody #2, another demonstration of Beecham's unique authority in this music.

Graham Melville Mason's notes are a model of clarity and information and SOMM's remastering is indeed top drawer quality. This is another essential disc in SOMM's laudable Beecham collection.

Copyright © 2002, Gerald Fenech