Classical music: Record review

Delius: A Song of the High Hills; Appalachia; Summer Night on the River John Noble (baritone), BBC choruses, BBCSO / Rozhdestvensky, LPO / Groves, BBCSO / Pritchard (Recorded: 1967-1984) (IMP BBC Radio Classics 15656 91332)
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The Independent Culture
If ever a composer fell victim to the autonomy of a single interpreter, it was Delius. Beecham's magnificent recordings have dissuaded all but the most tenacious rivals, and it is high time we turned a willing ear to such sympathetic Delians as Ormandy, Slatkin and - if this CD is anything to go by - Gennadi Rozhdestvensky.

The Song of the High Hills is infused with the spirit of Grieg and the Russian's natural feel for Northern musical climes helps focus the more weathered aspects of this masterly score, its mists, breezes and vivid sense of space. Rarely has the weeping first theme been given with such poetic awareness. True, there are minor blemishes and the sound is not ideal, but the performance is in many ways remarkable.

Sir Charles Groves's Appalachia scores by dint of its physicality and expert pacing; again, the playing has its rough edges, but the climaxes have real weight. With Sir John Pritchard's aptly fluid account of Summer Night on the River as makeweight, this stimulating CD serves as proof that, as far as Delius is concerned, there is life after Beecham!

ROBERT COWAN

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