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Delius: A Mass of Life; Prelude; Prelude and Idyll / Watson, Wyn-Rogers, Kennedy, Opie - David Hill

Album Summary

>Delius, Frederick : A Mass of Life (Eine Messe des Lebens), for soloists, chorus & orchestra, RT ii/4
>Delius, Frederick : Idyll
Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Long an admirer of Nietzsche's poetry, Frederick Delius composed A Mass of Life while at the height of his powers, blending passages from Also Sprach Zarathustra into orchestral textures of great expressive depth and striking beauty. Written in his final years, the Prelude and Idyll sourced music from a long discarded opera, transforming a story of lust and vengeance into one which emphasizes the transience of life and love. David Hill's previous BSO recordings include a "perfectly judged" Dies natalis by Gerald Finzi (The Guardian on 8.570417), while his Vaughan Williams Sancta Civitas (8.572424) was described as "thrilling... a great case for a neglected work". (Classic FM) Renowned for his fine musicianship, David Hill is widely respected as both a choral and an orchestral conductor. He became The Bach Choir's ninth Musical Director in 1998; he is also Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers and Associate Guest Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

The Observer - May 2012
The singing is suitably majestic for Nietzsche's vision of mankind's destiny...Hill draws some marvellously expressive playing from the BSO, with soloists - chief among them Alan Opie - in magnificent form.

Gramophone - July 2012
Alan Opie, who has the lion's share of the solo music in the work, is almost Wotan-like in his performances...Andrew Kennedy, Catherine Wyn-Rogers and Janice Watson also offer fine lyrical interpretations of their solo parts...This is a must for any Delius Liebhaber and...a marvellous starting point for anyone new to Delius's unique but compelling art.

The Daily Telegraph - 7th June 2012 *****
Even if you already have those discs, the excellent line-up of vocal and orchestral forces in this new one is well worth investigating, the Bach Choir on fine form and the four soloists sounding thoroughly immersed in their roles...Hill maintains the inner momentum and points up the essential poetry of the piece.

BBC Music - July 2012 ****
David Hill's impressive new recording with his Bach Choir (in the original German) boasts confident, ardent choral singing and orchestral playing, and a string solo team - even if Alan Opie, representing the prophet Zarathustra, perhaps makes his points with too much Wagnerian declamation at the expense of line....But listeners tempted by Naxos's bargain price into exploring this work won't be disappointed.

The Sunday Times - June 2012
Splendid modern sound, a thrilling choir and orchestra, and, in David Hill, a conductor no less devoted to Delius than his more celebrated predecessor [Beecham]. His soloists are outstanding: Janice Watson, Catherine Wyn-Rogers and Andrew Kennedy sing with clarity and radiance, but the star is Alan Opie, whose lyrical singing is wonderful.

The Times - June 2012 *****
Even I, congenitally allergic to Delius's music and Nietzsche's writing, can scarce forbear to cheer this stunning recording...it certainly celebrates life, especially in this thrilling performance by the Bach Choir, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and quality soloists.

Financial Times - June 2012
Fresh, finely nuanced singing.

American Record Guide, November/December 2012
Watson and Opie sing gloriously and need not defer to any of the other artists who have recorded this work. If my final preference leans ever so slightly to Fenby's sublime performance with Felicity Lott and Thomas Allen, surely no one would go wrong with this - or any of the others. Barbirolli has Sylvia Fisher and Jess Walters, and Meredith Davies draws strength from Heather Harper and John Shirley-Quirk. This expressive meeting between a man and a woman who spend time together in love's embrace, is well served on record.

MusicWeb International
This year there have been many memorable new recordings of Delius's beautiful music, but this one impressed me the most. The reviewer has well said, "David Hill brings the score to life in a way that you seldom hear...

... the real revelation on record in 2012 came from the Bach Choir's recording of Delius's A Mass of Life: strong choral singing, penetrating direction from David Hill and a heroic turn in the lead role from Alan Opie.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: The Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset, UK (11/26/2011-11/28/2011).


Inconsistency hampers Mass of Delius
An ambitious undertaking to celebrate the entirety of life characterizes the mind of Western society at the dawn of the 20th Century, and Frederick Delius has put it to music. This composition endeavors to include everything: emotion, discovery, energy, delicacy, sorrow, and salvation. While such work merits praise for the undertaking, the effect can lose the audience. Or perhaps the music itself is simply not memorable.

The audience can be pictured expectantly hearing the opening of this work, enduring the second part, and then hoping that the Idyll will finally bring release. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under the direction of David Hill responds to every demand upon it. The soloists carry out their parts admirably, although the texture of the soprano reminds the listener of blurred watercolors, and the baritone becomes gritty from time to time. The credentials of the conductor, soloists, and Bach Choir suggest the highest level of quality, and yet the effect is bombastic, overwhelming, and wandering, lacking substance.

This is neither a Mass nor about Life, but an ode to narcissism in a mÚlange of sound. A devotee of Nietzsche, Delius pays homage to the ▄bermensch and the optimism of the dawning 20th Century. But today that philosophy has paled, and the theme has faded in its appeal to audiences. This work seems to reflect the confusion and lack of direction which eventually became a mark of the 20th century.

Submitted on 09/19/12 by howsweetthesound 
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Works Details

>Delius, Frederick : A Mass of Life (Eine Messe des Lebens), for soloists, chorus & orchestra, RT ii/4
  • Conductor: David Hill
  • Ensemble: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: The Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset, UK (11/26/2011-11/28/2011)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: 1905

>Delius, Frederick : Idyll :: Once I passed thro' a populous City, for soprano, baritone & orchestra, RT iii/10
  • Conductor: David Hill
  • Notes: The Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset, UK (11/26/2011-11/28/2011)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 9 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1932