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Cat. No. CHAN 6628 Price: £4.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 6628 - Delius: Florida Suite/ North Country Sketches
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Available From: 21 July 2003
Delius can be seen against various backgrounds, English, French and Scandinavian, but the American is often forgotten. It was while he was in Solano Grove, Florida, a place that was exotic and remote from his home of Bradford that he started to work seriously at his art. Crucial to this was the singing of the Negroes that was an inspiration to Delius. Subtitled ‘Tropical Scenes for Orchestra’ the manuscript of the ‘Florida Suite’ is dated 1887. There are six movements, but as two pairs are linked, the work’s layout is as follows: I Daybreak – Dance’, II ’By the River’, III ’Sunset – Near the Plantation’, IV ‘At Night’. A complete day is thus portrayed and the music’s pictorialism owes something to Grieg, although Delius’s own Florida impressions predominate.

‘North Country Sketches’ refers to the Yorkshire Moors around Delius’s birthplace where he and his sister often took long walks; his love of this countryside stayed with him all his life and its finest expression is found in these works. This work together with ‘Song of the High Hills’ (1911), ‘Eventyr’ (1917) and several other pieces, is of distinctively northern inspiration; it is also his sole purely orchestral score, apart from ‘Brigg Fair’ (1907) to evoke specifically English scenes.

‘On Hearing the First Cuckoo of Spring’ partners ‘Summer Night on the River’ to form ‘Two Pieces for small orchestra’ both among Delius’s best known works. The blending of woodwind horns and strings Delius achieves in these works is perfection indeed. The theme woven skilfully into the texture is from Grieg’s ‘Norwegian Folk Tunes’, Op. 66.

‘Air and Dance’ was written in 1915 and dedicated to the National Institute for the Blind and is a confection based on the simplest of materials.
Delius: Air & Dance; Florida Suite; North Country Sketches; On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring – London Philharmonic Orchestra / Ulster Orchestra, Handley

‘Vernon Handley’s splendid Ulster coupling of the comparatively rare Florida Suite (written in America) and the North Country Sketches (which evokes the seasons on the Yorkshire moors) has always been a staple of the CD catalogue. In the latter work, a Debussian influence is revealed and Handley’s refined (and warm) approach to the early (1887) Florida Suite clearly links it with later masterpieces, with the famous La Calinda delightfully presented. The recording is superbly balanced within the very suitable acoustics of the Ulster Hall, and it is hardly less impressive in the two bonuses from the LPO, which are equally beautifully played. The Air and Dance dates from 1915 and was dedicated to the National Institute for the Blind. A highly recommendable reissue.’

Penguin Guide to Compact Discs

Reviews

‘Handley’s choice of tempi is always apt… The recording is superbly balanced…’
The Penguin Complete Guide

‘This is a glorious record. Chandos have provided a wonderful quality of sound; it is warm, atmospheric and totally natural…’
Gramophone

‘…everything is brightly recorded, yet with warmth, too, and Handley’s performances are as always, very sympathetic.’
Gramophone

‘North Country Sketches was always one of his [Handley’s] best CDs. Now it comes with a couple of bonuses, equally sympathetically played by the LPO… a genuine bargain’.
Gramophone

 

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