FREDERICK DELIUS: Hiawatha, tone poem for orchestra; Suite for Violin & Orchestra; Légende for Violin & Orchestra; Double Concerto for Violin, Viola & Orchestra; Caprice and Elegy for Viola & Orchestra – Philippe Graffin violin/ Sarah-Jane Bradley, viola/ BBC Concert orchestra/David Lloyd-Jones – Dutton Epoch CDLX-7226, 71:57 (Distr. by Harmonia mundi) *****:
This collection of less familiar works would be a must-have for Delius fans. Three of the five works receive here their recording premieres. Hiawatha – based on Longfellow’s well-known poem – was the second orchestral work the composer created after returning to Leipzig following a two-year stay in Florida (the Florida Suite was the first). Delius wrote these works before Richard Strauss started on his famous series of tone poems. Hiawatha begins with the sounds of nature and main themes for Hiawatha and Minnehaha. There is a depiction of their wedding feast and possibly of their happy life together.
The violin-orchestral suite of 1888 has to programmatic connotations. It is an abstract four-movement piece consisting of a pastorale, intermezzo, elegie and finale. The influence of Grieg may be heard early in the work, and of Mendelssohn towards the conclusion. The short Legende dates from 1895, and though both it and the suite have been recorded before, Graffin’s violin solos are superb and the pieces most enjoyable.
The Double Concerto of 1915 – heard here for the first time in this Lionel Tertis arrangement for violin and viola – was inspired by Brahms’ similar work, although Delius was said to have generally disliked Brahms’ music. The work was especially designed for two sister performers to play. The concerto has three movements and follows a Lisztian design. The central slow movement boasts a lovely melody, and the concerto has a massive climax near its poetic conclusion. Tertis also transcribed the Caprice and Elegy. The notes report that the recording venue for this entire disc (as well as the town of Dutton’s own headquarters) happened to be the acoustically-acclaimed Watford Town Hall, which is located less than a mile from where Delius wrote the Double Concerto.
– John Sunier