Today, 29th January, is the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Delius. I first discovered this composer back in the early 1970’s on a Decca Eclipse LP. Unlike many people, it was not the First Cuckoo that first impressed me, but the delicious A Song of Summer. This was played by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Anthony Collins. Included on this album was The Walk to Paradise Garden, Brigg Fair and that ubiquitous Cuckoo. I soon discovered that there was another Eclispe record that show-cased Summer Night on the River, In a Summer Garden and the Nocturne: Paris-Song of a Great City.
In 1973, whilst travelling on the back of a lorry to my summer job at a builders yard, I heard the Piano Concerto on Radio Three. It bowled me over. It has remained a favourite ever since.
Five pieces that I have come to love over the years. Any of them could be a ‘Desert Island Disc.’
1. A Song of Summer
2. Piano Concerto
3. In a Summer Garden
4. Summer Evening
5. Summer Night on the River.
For anyone wanting an introduction to Delius’ music I could recommend nothing better that Sir Thomas Beecham’s recordings on EMI. The piano concerto is available in a number of recordings including the original version on Hyperion.