This release offers a pair of fairly early Delius works; they may not be instantly appealing to those making a start with this idiosyncratic English impressionist, but confirmed fans will love them. The roots of Frederick Delius’ Appalachia lay in his experiences as an orange plantation manager in Florida in the late 1880s, where he heard the singing of African-American laborers and, according to his own testimony, first began to think about becoming a composer. The work is subtitled “Variations on an Old Slave Song with Final Chorus for baritone, chorus, and orchestra,” and everything about it is intriguingly confused. Florida is not part of Appalachia. Nor is the Mississippi River delta, which Delius claimed was the inspiration for the work, but which he apparently never saw.
29th January 2012 sees the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Frederick Delius. To celebrate this occasion, Decca will release, on 24th January 2012, a special 8CD Commemorative Special Edition Box Set, containing many of the greatest Delius recordings on Decca, featuring a great cast of artists and performers, including Thomas Hampson, Julian Lloyd Webber, the Fitzwilliam Quartet, London Symphony Orchestra, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Sir Neville Marriner & Sir Charles Mackerras.
Beethoven reputedly wasn't Beecham's favorite composer, but you wouldn't know it from this performance; it's exceedingly well conceived, highly energetic, and has that unique Beecham sparkle to it. The fillers also are delightful. All recorded in Ascona, Switzerland in 1957.