ALBUM TITLE: Delius in Norway
WORKS: Works by Delius and Grieg
PERFORMER: Ann-Helen Moen (soprano); Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Andrew Davis
CATALOGUE NO: CHSA 5131
‘Delius in Norway’ is the theme, though the best of this composer’s music always inhabits a country of his own. Deliusland features long wistful sunsets, surprising colours and much chromatic motion. Head to, for instance, this CD’s final track, the evocative Eventyr, inspired by Norwegian folk tales, and succulently performed by Andrew Davis’s Bergen forces, including unnamed voices shouting twice off-stage. Not every interpretation reaches that peak: strings in On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring shimmer too much (Beecham’s were always crisper). Nor can every piece compete: Paa Vidderne, ballooning with Wagnerian pomp, shows the young Delius still finding his way, and the Folkeraadet music – written for a theatrical satire that created enough controversy in 1897 for Delius to be evicted from his hotel – makes an incoherent orchestral suite.
Yet these Nordic-inspired selections still manage to engage the ear one way or another. What could be more beguiling than the Norwegian Bridal Procession, orchestrated from Grieg, featuring the bucolic wooden piccolo? Bright orchestrations also enhance Two Songs from the Norwegian, eloquently delivered by soprano Ann-Helen Moen. Sleigh Ride twinkles, and Folkeraadet has definite curio status. Then with Eventyr, the magical music, soaring interpretation and sympathetic recording fuse and take off. Delius is home at last.