DELIUS: Brigg Fair; Piano Concerto; Idylle de printemps; Paris – Howard Shelley, piano/ Royal Scottish National Orchestra/ Sir Andrew Davis – Chandos CHAN 10742, 75:35 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
The major interest here is the Delius Piano Concerto, presented for the first time in its original three-movement form rather than the single-movement version heard on previous recordings. The composer began working on his concerto after first hearing Grieg’s Piano Concerto, but then let it falter. Later he met virtuoso pianist-composer Busoni and that spurred him on to complete his Concerto. In fact he performed the concerto on two pianos with Busoni at one point. It had its premiere as a piano concerto with orchestra in 1904. It is strongly Romantic in nature, with hints not only of Grieg but also of Liszt. Its Largo movement has a melancholy theme in the same key as the theme of Grieg’s slow movement in his Piano Concerto. The piano is in the spotlight at the beginning of the final movement, and it closes in a majestic fashion.
The “Morceau symphonique” of Idylle de printemps was entirely new to my ears, and is a glorious little ten-minute Delius pastoral piece. Brigg Fair is heard in Sir Thomas Beecham’s revised version, as is the Delius Nocturne Paris – The Song of a Great City. The first is probably one of the finest works of the composer: an inspired “English Rhapsody.” The latter is a programmatic depiction of a night in Paris, beginning with dusk and ending with the coming of the dawn. Sonics are excellent for a standard CD.
The unifying purpose of Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn…