Delius in Norway / Davis, Bergen Philharmonic
Norway is a gorgeous country, and it’s no surprise that Delius found much of his inspiration there. The pieces on this intelligently planned program run from 1889-1917, and are programmed in roughly chronological order. They range from the charming orchestration of good friend Edvard Grieg’s Norwegian Bridal Procession to Delius’ first major works for orchestra (Paa Vidderne) and for the theatre (the incidental music to Folkeraadet), taking in a couple of orchestral songs along the way.
Paa Vidderne (On the Mountains) is a tone poem obviously of the Wagner/Liszt school, with plenty of hefty brass scoring and way too many cymbal crashes. It does not sound particularly Delian, but curiously the earlier Sleigh Ride’s calm central section clearly foreshadows the composer to come. Few listeners are probably aware that On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring is based on a Norwegian theme, but there it is, while Eventyr, which concludes the program, is a masterpiece of mood and turbulent atmosphere, sort of Delius’ answer to Sibelius’ En Saga.
This is one of those programs in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The selections are nicely varied. Ann-Helen Moen sings the two songs quite beautifully, and Andrew Davis, who recorded some very nice Delius for Teldec back in the day, knows his way around the music. It’s also good to hear non-British orchestras taking on this repertoire. Certainly the Bergen Philharmonic sounds just fine, although curiously, in Eventyr, the second of the two shouts (literally: the plays have to shout) is quite untidy. Not important, though, especially with fine sonics and a very generous nearly eighty minutes of playing time. A very enjoyable and interesting disc.
Catalog Number: CHSA 5131
Composer: Frederick Delius
Conductor: Sir Andrew Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble: Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Performer: Ann-Helen Moen