Frederick Delius English Masterworks
The Danish composer-conductor Bo Holten has already presented his impressive credentials as an interpreter of Delius in discs of music associated with Denmark and Norway. Now he turns to ‘English Masterworks’, an imaginative programme reflecting through texts or subject-matter the country of Delius’s birth 150 years ago.
The main item is the Songs of Sunset, a setting of poems by Ernest Dowson about the end of love. With a fresh-voiced but small choir, not totally idiomatic in its English, this reading hardly matches Richard Hickox’s classic Chandos recording with Bournemouth forces; and the Danish soloists, fine though they are, can’t compete with Hickox’s Sally Burgess and Bryn Terfel. But some expressive orchestral playing shows up well in the recorded balance, and the hushed ending is beautiful.
The Aarhus Symphony Orchestra also distinguishes itself in the North Country Sketches. Henriette Bonde-Hansen gives a lovely account of three early Shelley songs, in orchestrations by Holten; and in the touching setting of WE Henley’s A Late Lark, officially for tenor and orchestra, she makes a convincing case for solo soprano.