COMPOSERS: Frederick Delius
ALBUM TITLE: Delius French Masterworks
WORKS: Prelude to Margot la Rouge; Paris; In a Summer Garden; Five Songs
PERFORMER: Henriette Bonde-Hansen (soprano); Aarhus Symphony Orchestra/Bo Holten
CATALOGUE NO: DACOCD728
After discs of music by Delius associated with Denmark, Norway and England, Bo Holten turns to ‘French Masterworks’, written in, and about, the country where the composer spent most of his life. He lived first in the capital, which is vividly portrayed in the large-scale nocturne Paris (The Song of a Great City), and is also the setting of the dreaming Prelude to the opera Margot la Rouge – less than four minutes of quintessential Delius, later rescued from obscurity to preface the Idyll. He then moved to the village of Grez-sur-Loing, south of Paris, where his wife Jelka created the luxuriant riverside garden which is the subject of In a Summer Garden.
These works all receive sympathetic performances, with excellent playing by the Aarhus orchestra, though the recorded balance sometimes pushes the woodwind into the background. And Henriette Bond-Hansen impresses in five settings of poems by Verlaine, three in reverent and effective orchestrations by Delius’s friend Philip Heseltine (Peter Warlock), the other two scored in a more interventionist manner by Holten. Despite the short playing time (surely Summer Night on the River would have qualified as another ‘French masterwork’?), this
is a highly recommendable issue.