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Jeremy Dibble
Gramophone, December 2012

It is fitting that two of Delius’s American-inspired works should appear on this recording performed by the Florida Orchestra and the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay under the direction of Stefan Sanderling. Sanderling’s interpretation of [Appalachia] is sympathetic, especially in the protracted evocation of the dawn. The tempi are well chosen and the handling of Delius’s poetic orchestration, not least in its richer Straussian garb, is nicely poised. The chorus also evinces a sense of quasi-informality in its ‘free’ sound and delivery, ideal for the choral conclusion. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Malcolm Hayes
BBC Music Magazine, December 2012

This fine orchestra has a superb violinist leader…plus serious class in every department, the brass in particular. The choral singing, too, is exemplary in its firm-toned accuracy: Delius’s tricky chromatic demands are sailed through with ease…the firepower and up-front honesty of [Leon Williams’s] singing do real justice to a great solo part. © 2012 BBC Music Magazine



Infodad.com, November 2012

…[In] Appalachia…Stefan Sanderling shapes the music well and keeps it moving nicely… Sanderling also does a fine job with Sea Drift…a work for baritone, chorus and orchestra based on the poetry of Walt Whitman. Whitman’s sea images have proved irresistible to many composers…For Delius, Whitman provided an opportunity to evoke Nature in ways thoroughly reflective of Delius’ predilections for orchestration:…Well sung and well played… © 2012 Infodad.com Read complete review



Julie Amacher
Minnesota Public Radio, November 2012

Some say Frederick Delius was at his best when he was dreaming and drifting, fantasizing about musical possibilities. With this new release which marks the composer’s 150th anniversary, The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay and the Florida Philharmonic with baritone Leon Williams give us a delightful sample of this British composer’s unique voice, which found its roots on a plantation in Jacksonville, Florida. © 2012 Minnesota Public Radio Read complete review



Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, October 2012

It is a delight to welcome performances of two of Delius’s American-inspired works by forces from Florida, where Delius lived from 1892 to 1895. Appalachia fares rather better in this reading. The orchestra relishes the contrasts in Delius’s set of variations, with a nicely winsome touch in passages such as the waltz variation at 19.57; Beecham allowed a very gusty breath of the ballroom to intrude here. Earlier they are beautifully atmospheric in the passage from 17.01 which recalls Delius’s Florida opera The magic fountain. The chorus is nicely distanced in their brief interjections in the earlier variations, and come into their own with the own variation at 27.50, when they appear to move closer.

Naxos’s cover photograph by Giorgio Fochesato is particularly beautiful and appropriate, and the booklet commendably includes the complete texts of both works. The orchestra and chorus both perform superbly; it is nice to hear a really big choir sing this music…as Delius would have expected in his earlier performances. They maintain pitch even in the most exposed passages of Sea Drift. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2012

Though written many years later, Appalachia and Sea Drift were inspired by time spent by the young Frederick Delius when managing an orange grove in Florida. It was a decade after her returned to Europe before he began work on Appalachia, a score for baritone, chorus and orchestra using the songs of the negroes working on the plantations set within the seductive warmth of the region as his inspiration. From the evocative morning scene that opens the score in a sense of mystery, the music grows with the rising sun to arrive at a group of songlike melodies. Those who know his opera, The Magic Fountain, composed at much the same time, will recognise how the music links with the story of love between a European and an indigenous Indian American. And so the story, such as it is, is unveiled, reaching the song of the sold slave which carries with it the hope of happiness to come, the work ending in peace and tranquility. Never quite achieving the popularity that many of his works enjoy, the subtle and beautiful scoring places it among his finest works. Coming from the following year, Sea Drift uses words of the American poet, Walt Whitman. It is the story of the pair of birds with their nest, one bird obviously dying at sea leaving the other one pining for its mate. Also scored for solo baritone, chorus and orchestra, Delius’s music perfectly captures Whitman’s imagery of the sea as the backdrop to life and death. Relying on memory, I think all previous recordings of both works have been made in the UK, Naxos having chosen to return to the land of the music’s inspiration with Stefan Sanderling conducting the Florida Orchestra, a local chorus and the American baritone, Leon Williams. © 2012 David’s Review Corner



John Fleming
Tampa Bay Times, September 2012

In the wrong hands, Appalachia could have a tendency to sprawl and lose shape, but Sanderling paces the performance well. There is an elegaic, romantic atmosphere to the music…Numerous deft little solos dot the work, with English horn, harp, French horn, violin and trumpet among the most prominent, and the Naxos recording brings out the details nicely.

Williams and the Master Chorale come to the fore in Sea Drift, which many regard as Delius’ crowning achievement. A setting of a section of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, it is a challenging sing…the baritone brings lyrical smoothness and rich sonority to the tricky free verse, and his high notes…are clearly heard.

…this production has a muted, subtle quality that…suits the hazy tone colors and mysterious mood of the Delius sound. © 2012 Tampa Bay Times Read complete review






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