The songs in this collection span a period of over four hundred years, yet they show a fundamental unity of style which illustrates how static a genre based in a tradition of apparently untrained music-making necessarily remained. Tudor court composers conjure up an Arcadian world of innocence, while later works often derive from indigenous folk-songs. Either way, the secular song packages and sanitises a dangerous world of rustic abandon for an audience more restrictively cultured.
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.