Delius – Hiawatha, Double Concerto & Légende

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Dutton
WORKS: Hiawatha; Caprice and Elegy; Double Concerto for Violin and Cello; Suite for Violin and Orchestra; Légende
PERFORMER: Philippe Graffin (violin), Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola); BBC Concert Orchestra/David Lloyd-Jones

The real novelty here is Delius’s second orchestral work, an ambitious tone poem inspired by Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha. It survives in an incomplete state, but has been convincingly reconstructed by the assiduous Delius editor Robert Threlfall.
The orchestration and continuity are a little clumsy by the composer’s later standards, but characteristic melodic shapes and moods emerge in a sympathetic, clearly recorded performance  by David Lloyd-Jones and the responsive BBC Concert Orchestra. 
Other early works here include the Suite and Légende with solo violin, Delius’s own instrument. Philippe Graffin comes close to equalling the elegance of Ralph Holmes’s pioneering 1980s recording (now deleted).
The rarities continue with the eloquent Double Concerto for Violin and Cello and the late, touching Caprice and Elegy with solo cello, in the versions with the cello parts adapted for the viola by Lionel Tertis.
For all Sarah-Jane Bradley’s persuasive playing, the transcription doesn’t work well in the Double Concerto, which needs the cello’s upper register for balance and its lower notes for ballast. But the more lightly scored solo piece comes off nicely. Anthony Burton