Delius: Double Concerto; Violin Concerto; Cello Concerto

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Delius: Double Concerto; Violin Concerto; Cello Concerto
PERFORMER: Tasmin Little (violin), Paul Watkins (cello); BBC SO/Andrew Davis

Delius wrote his three string concertos between 1915 and 1921, in the years before blindness and paralysis put a halt – as it turned out a temporary one – to his composing. Unusually for him, they have no acknowledged starting point in narrative or landscape: their lyrical flow seems to stem rather from the very nature of the solo instruments. But all three round off their coherent single-movement forms with codas suffused by Delius’s characteristic sunset glow of nostalgia. In the Violin Concerto and the Double Concerto, Tasmin Little is every bit as persuasively expressive as on her earlier recordings with Charles Mackerras.
Paul Watkins provides the partnership you’d expect from such a fine chamber musician in the Double, and copes effortlessly with the problems of the original version of the Cello Concerto. Andrew Davis paces everything magisterially, always allowing enough space at moments of hushed stillness. The recording, at least in stereo, seems slightly too close-up on the soloists, relegating some fine orchestral playing to the middle distance. But that’s a minor blemish on a disc that will give great pleasure to all lovers of Delius’s music. Anthony Burton