Sir Thomas Beecham was acknowledged as the finest interpreter of Delius' music during the last century. The composer's friend and biographer, his performances remain a benchmark against which all must be judged. This invaluable anthology contains some of the finest he taped for EMI in the 1940's and 50's. The first two discs contain all those works he recorded in stereo. They comprise a selection of shorter works, the complete Florida Suite and a wonderful 'Songs of Sunset' - settings of 'fin du siecle' poems by Ernest Dowson - splendidly sung by John Cameron and Maureen Forrester.
Perahia’s immaculate technique, stylistic surety, and classical symmetry are remarkably consistent. While his tone is always singing and rounded, lyrical melodies and decorative passages alike convey a slight diamond-like edge to the peak of crescendos or an emphatic accent. This helps achieve an attractive fusion of unruffled poise and dramatic tension. You hear this quite readily in the B-flat K. 456 concerto ‘s first movement, or in the carefully pedaled trills and restatement of the main theme in K. 595’s heavenly Larghetto, also sampled here. Perahia’s symbiotic musical rapport with Radu Lupu in the two-piano concerto and the two-piano version of the concerto for three pianos should not go unmentioned.– Jed Distler