Delius: Sea Drift; Songs of Farewell; Songs of Sunset

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COMPOSERS: Delius
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Sea Drift; Songs of Farewell; Songs of Sunset
PERFORMER: Sally Burgess (mezzo-soprano), Bryn Terfel (baritone); Bournemouth SO and Choirs/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9214 DDD
Delius’s preoccupation with the transience of life and love links these three works. Sea Drift (1903-4), written at the height of his powers, is regarded by many as his greatest achievement. It concerns two mating birds: the death of the female and the male’s bewilderment and grief. The music is a setting of poetry by Walt Whitman. So too is Songs of Farewell (1929-30), the finest achievement of Delius’s final years. Again, the images are principally of the sea and voyages as metaphors for acceptance of death and the journey into the hereafter.

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This is an intelligent programme and an outstanding issue. Terfel seizes every opportunity and colours his voice in perfect accord with the texts. In the marvellously evocative Songs of Sunset (1906-7), both he and Sally Burgess sing with passion the Ernest Dowson lines of dying love with passion. The choir is first class too: jubilant in the rapturous ‘Shine, Shine’ chorus of Sea Drift and radiantly confident in the demanding ‘Joy, Shipmate Joy’ of Songs of Farewell. Hickox captures the spirit and atmosphere of these haunting scores beautifully and the sound is full with wide perspectives. A must for Delius lovers. Ian Lace