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Cat. No. CHAN 10174 X Price: £7 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10174 - Vaughan Williams & Delius: Orchestral Works
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Available From: 09 February 2004
In 1909,Vaughan Williams was asked by the Greek Play Committee in Cambridge to write the incidental music for a performance of Aristophanes’ comedy The Wasps. Whilst we seldom hear the incidental music today, the overture has always proved to be a winning concert piece.

Serenade to Music was originally written for sixteen solo singers and orchestra, to celebrate Sir Henry Wood’s fifty years as a conductor, and it was he who conducted the first performance of it at a Promenade Concert in the Queen’s Hall in 1938. The text is drawn from the first scene of the last act of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, and, with or without the text, the music is a lyrical evocation of a summer’s evening.

Many of Delius’s orchestral works are scored for very large forces and this made performances difficult to mount, but friends managed to persuade him to write for small orchestral groups, thus making his work more accessible to both performers and concert promoters. Summer Evening, written in 1890, is an early example of such a work. The Two Pieces for Small Orchestra, On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring and Summer Night on the River, are among Delius’s best known works. The First Cuckoo incorporates a theme taken from Grieg’s Norwegian Folk Tunes. The river on which Delius spent his summer nights was the one that flowed at the bottom of his garden at Grez-sur-Loing. In this picture Delius paints not only the river but also the sounds of night, including the croaking of frogs.

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