Delius and his Circle
Thanks to Eric Fenby’s book Delius as I Knew Him and Ken Russell’s film Song of Summer, we tend to think of Delius as he was in his last years, a cantankerous recluse in rural France – forgetting that, right from his student days in Frankfurt, he made numerous close and loyal musical friends. Paul Guinery, well remembered as a genial voice on BBC Radio 3 but also no mean pianist, has assembled this delightful (and well recorded) anthology of music featuring some of those friends on the British musical scene.
Delius himself is represented by a handful of pieces, including three French-sounding Preludes from the early 1920s. His distinctive harmonies are echoed in a couple of works, EJ Moeran’s Summer Valley and Peter Warlock’s sombre Five Folk-Song Preludes – a striking discovery. Cyril Scott is represented by his once popular Lotus land, with its exotic arabesques over drowsy chords; Arnold Bax by his affectionate portrait of his mistress Harriet Cohen as The Maiden with the Daffodil; Percy Grainger by a sonorous folk song transcription, The Merry King. There are also charming miniatures by Roger Quilter, Frederic Austin and Norman O’Neill; and Mere by Balfour Gardiner, most supportive of Delius’s friends, brings the disc to an exuberant close.