Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Frederick Delius

Great bargains to be had nowadays. I bought triumphantly the new Warner box of Beecham conducting the music of Frederick Delius (seven CDs). I forget to check that I already had an EMI box of Beecham with five CDs of Beecham and Delius, including the same recordings as in the Warner box.

Delius's music needs someone like Beecham who was ultra- sophisticated and elegant, and who knew and loved the music. Delius does not take to lingering or point-making. In my teen years I liked much of the music of Delius; the short pieces, Sea Drift, Brigg Fair, Paris. I can never claim to have been a Delius fan, but much of his music was part of my repertoire over the decades. In my teens, I even made a pilgrimage (on bicycle via the N7) to Grez-sur-Loing and viewed the house where Delius passed his later years.

He seems to have fallen out of favour nowadays, perhaps because no conductors have Beecham's qualifications for Delius performances. The music is not particularly English (neither was Delius). More German neo-Romantic, mixed with Grieg. Come to think of it, poor old Edvard Grieg seems also to have fallen out of favour, together with musical co-religionists such as Karl Goldmark (another protégé of Beecham).

Sadly, clutching my twelve Delius-Beecham CDs, I find that the attraction Delius's music used to have for me, has died. Works such as Sea Drift, that I once loved, now sound mawkish and second rate. After I am gone, there will be a lot of dusty Delius recordings for someone to inherit.

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