WORKS: Paris: The Song of a Great City; In a Summer Garden; Brigg Fair; The Walk to the Paradise Garden; On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring; Summer Night on the River
PERFORMER: BBC SO/Andrew Davis
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-90845-2 DDD
Andrew Davis shows great sensitivity in his readings of Delius’s nature music. He vividly conjures up the colour and peace and tranquillity of In a Summer Garden – you can picture the gentle rustling of trees and flowers and the flitting of insects and birds. You can almost see dragonflies hovering over the water lilies in Summer Night on the River. The beautifully limpid On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring and Brigg Fair, the latter with its lovely opening of dawn sounds and its sunny, serene and joyful variations on a nostalgic Lincolnshire folksong, are radiantly captured in a warm and spacious acoustic. So too is the romance, passion and tragedy implicit in The Walk to the Paradise Garden.
In contrast to all these, Paris is written on the grand scale and modelled on the tone poems of Richard Strauss. Davis’s full-blooded performance captures the romantic and hedonistic spirit of La ville lumière at the height of La belle époque but he has formidable competition. On balance I think Del Mar and, particularly, Beecham succeed better in conveying the bitter-sweet quality of the quieter interludes where Delius seems to yearn for an ideal, unattainable past. Nevertheless, an attractive release. Ian Lace