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CHAN 5088
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CHAN 5088

Delius: Appalachia/ The Song of the High Hills

The Classical Shop
release date: April 2011

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2010


BBC Symphony Orchestra

Sir Andrew Davis

Andrew Rupp


Olivia Robinson


Christopher Bowen


BBC Symphony Chorus


All Saints' Church, Tooting, London


Brian Pidgeon


Jonathan Cooper

Ralph Couzens

Record Label



Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 64:06
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  Variations on an Old Slave Song with Final Chorus for baritone, chorus and orchestra  
  Revised and edited by Sir Thomas Beecham  
  To Julius Buths  
1 [Introduction I.] Molto moderato - Tranquillo - 3:47
2 [Introduction II.] Poco più vivo ma moderato - 2:13
3 [Theme.] Andante - 0:29
4 [Variation I.] Un poco più - Moderato - 0:45
5 [Variation II.] Più vivo - 1:00
6 [Variaton III.] Molto moderato - Poco più mosso - Lento - Moderato (molto ritmico) - 4:09
7 [Variation IV.] Con moto - Un poco più tranquillo - 0:53
8 [Variation V.] Giocoso. Allegro moderato - Meno mosso. Più tranquillo - 2:42
9 [Variation VI.] Lento e molto tranquillo - Misterioso. Più mosso - Un poco meno - 4:10
10 [Variation VII.] Andante con grazia - Calando - 1:38
11 [Variation VIII.] Lento sostenuto e tranquillo - Un poco più - Tempo I - 2:49
12 [Variation IX.] Allegro alla marcia - Adagio - 1:42
13 [Variation X.] Marcia. Molto lento maestoso - 1:33
14 [Song.] L'istesso tempo - Misterioso lento - Lento - Più mosso 7:43
 Andrew Rupp baritone

The Song of the High Hills

  for chorus and orchestra  
  Edited by Sir Thomas Beecham  
15 In ruhigen fließendem Tempo - Tranquillo. Very quietly but not dragging - With vigour - Not too slow - Rather quicker 9:27
16 Very slow (The wide far distance - The great solitude) - Slow and solemnly - Very quietly - Slow and very legato - 11:45
17 Tempo I - Più mosso ma tranquillo - With exultation (not hurried). Maestoso - Tempo I - Very slow 7:21
 Olivia Robinson soprano
 Christopher Bowen tenor

Delius: Appalachia; The Song of the High Hills – Olivia Robinson, Christopher Bowen, Andrew Rupp, BBC Symphony Chorus, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis

This recording presents two comparatively rarely heard but striking works by Frederick Delius. Both are prime examples of his highly individual and ground-breaking use of voices in predominantly orchestral works.

In Appalachia, the sombre mood reflects the fate that overcame many black slaves along the Mississippi River, who were sold by one cotton planter to another, simply uprooted from loved ones, and transported to a different place – the practice is the origin of the expression ‘being sold down the river’. The inspiration for the work came to Delius when he was working on an orange plantation in Florida as a young man, and from across the water in the distance heard the singing of black farm labourers. Many year later, Delius recollected: ‘they showed a truly wonderful sense of musicianship and harmonic resource in the instinctive way in which they treated a melody, and hearing their singing in such romantic surroundings it was then and there that I first felt the urge to express myself in music.’

The inspiration for The Song of the High Hills was the mountains of Norway, which Delius regarded as his spiritual home. In 1911, he started composing the tone poem in which he sought to capture the impression created by a still summer night in the Norwegian mountains. Completed the following year, it is scored for large orchestra and chorus which, as in Appalachia, plays an integral part in the work, although the singing here is entirely wordless. To emphasise their role in providing colour to the texture, the singers were directed to remain seated throughout, and to ‘sing on the vowel only which will produce the richest tone possible’. Delius considered this not only one of his best works, but one of the works in which he had expressed himself most completely.

“ essential purchase...”

Alan Becker – American Record Guide – September/October 2011


"Sir Andrew Davis conducts evocative performances of two of Delius’s most poetic works. Appalachia is an exquisite set of variations on an old slave song. Song of the High Hills enshrines his love of Norway’s mountains."     ****

Michael Kennedy - The Sunday Telegraph - 18 September 2011

"...I have no problem recommending this new recording for its many complementary virtues... Those ... who are moved by Delius’s transcendant music and by sheer magnificence of orchestral and choral execution-and engineering that supports it-will certainlywant to hear this SACD."

Ronald E Grames - Fanfare - September-October 2011

              Recording of the Month
"Beautifully-shaped and sensitive readings."

Ian Lace - - June 2011

“Davis’s magnificent reading of these two masterpieces assures him of the position at the top of the ladder of contemporary Delius interpreters. The opening of Appalachia has seldom sounded so luxuriant, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus play and sing their hearts our for their conductor. Inspired by the mountainous landscape of Norway, The Song of the High Hills is scored for a vast orchestra and wordless chorus and soloists. It remains one of Delius’s most extraordinary compositions and is here given an exemplary performance. Chandos’s clean recording, bright and open but never brash, consistently aids Davis’s cause, as do all three excellent soloists.  A CD not to be missed.”

Philip Reed – Choir & Organ – July/August 2011

      IRR Outstanding
“...I am pleased to recommend this superb issue with the greatest enthusiasm.”

Robert Matthew-Walker – International Record Review – June 2011

"...The outdoors feeling of all the music is very successfully captured by a spacious yet well-focussed recording ... This is an exquisite release blessed by the wonderfully rapt playing of the BBC Symphony Orchestra producing glitteringly polychromatic results under one ots favourite conductores, Andrew Davis..."

Peter Joelson - - 30 April 2011

                   Performance *****            Recording *****
“... I’ve heard nothing to beat these glorious new performances.”

Anthony Burton – BBC Music Magazine – June 2011

      Gramophone Recommends
“Davis emerges as a worthy Delian successor to Mackerras and Hickox.”

Jeremy Dibble – Gramophone – June 2011 

"...Both works, in their different ways, conjure up an evocative atmosphere, harnessing a mastery of orchestral and wordless vocal colour that Andrew Davis and his BBC forces translate into musical pictures, rich in texture and poignant in emotion.”  ****

Geoffrey Norris – The Telegraph – 1 April 2011

“...The BBC forces and Andrew Davis conjure exactly the rich transcendence Delius would have enjoyed. The Song of the High Hills, suggested by a visit to the mountains of Norway, is performed with equal lustre.”

Fiona Maddocks – The Observer 27 March 2011

A Garcia

N Nagata

Join Downloads of the Month: Musicweb International Download Round, April 2011/1 Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
Appalachia: variations on an old Slave Song (rev. and ed. Thomas BEECHAM) [35:36]
The Song of the High Hills (ed. BEECHAM) [28:34]
Andrew Rupp (baritone); Olivia Robinson (soprano); Christopher Bowen (tenor); BBC Symphony Chorus
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis rec. October 2010. DDD/DSD.
CHANDOS CHAN5088 [64:06] from (mp3, lossless, 24-bit or 24-bit surround)

Appalachia: variations on an old Slave Song [38:00]
2 Aquarelles ‘to be sung on a summer night’ (arr. Eric FENBY) [4:41]
Irmelin: Prelude [5:09]
Dance Rhapsodies No.1 [13:10] and 2 [8:01]
Florida Suite [37:35]
North Country Sketches [27:02]
Welsh National Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Sir Charles Mackerras
DECCA BRITISH MUSIC COLLECTION 473 7162 [2 CDs: 2:34:01] from (mp3) [reduced from £7.99 to £5.99 at the time of writing]

Can either of these modern recordings capture the magic that Beecham brought to Appalachia? Well, of course, in one very important respect they can. The Beecham recording came in an inadequate pressing on the Philips GBL label, sounding more like a transfer from 78s than an early LP. I haven’t heard later CBS/Sony reissues, having somehow allowed a work that I once treasured to pass out of my ken. Both Mackerras (deleted, but available as a good quality download) and the new Davis version restore it to me in sound much better than Beecham’s Chandos even offer it as an SACD or in 24-bit surround sound and in performances which I shall treasure as much as I once did that Philips LP.

In fact, I’m going to be greedy and recommend that you buy both these recordings for the sake of their couplings. Mackerras includes a version of the Florida Suite to challenge Beecham, once available on an HMV HQS LP and just restored on an EMI 6-CD set, 5 CDs of Delius, with a sixth disc of music by Bantock, Bax, Berners and German (9099152, a real bargain at around £17.50).

The Chandos filler is the wonderful Song of the High Hills. The Beecham version is available again on that new 6-CD but Davis runs him pretty close, and in a better recording. Even if you go for the Beecham 6-CD box who could resist it? you should also purchase the Mackerras or Davis Appalachia or both.

Brian Wilson

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L Mullenger