Rock my World – 1

briggs-fair-1971-delius

 

 

Last week, a friend posted this challenge on Facebook and nominated me to take part.

Rules of the game. Copy and post this as your status, but delete my list. List 12 albums in no particular order that made a lasting impression on you, not the ones that you listen to all the time, but the ones that rocked your world when you first heard them! 1 per band/artist. Don’t take too long and don’t think too hard.

Only 1 per band/artist. Don’t take too long and don’t think too hard. Then nominate 12 friends to post their lists.

 

I have known Gail for an absolute lifetime and shared much together over the years and I could have guessed some of the albums she listed as game-changers, but there were other on the list that I don’t think I would have guessed. I have responded and thought about the 12 albums that immediately spring to mind that have made a lasting impression on, or did so at the time. I noticed how many of the albums I thought about were ones that I discovered during either my formative years either as a moody teenager or as earnest twenty-something. Of course, most of these albums would have been on black vinyl, and I still have some of them, but none have survived from my teenage years.   Though I am glad to notice that I can still be moved, if not quite shaken, by new discoveries in music.
Of course, having written the list I can now think of some albums that really should be on there but are not. Maybe I’ll revisit this and do a “B-side.”

Compiling the list, I felt I wanted to say something about why I had chosen that album and in what way it had changed my life. So, that’s what I shall do here. The albums were chosen in no particular order though I think they are roughly chronological and relate to specific times in my life.

 

Delius – A song of Summer

In the summer of ’75 I was living in a one-room bedsit in Dunchurch. I had but two LPs that I played over and over again. One of the LPs was a collection of short pieces by Frederick Delius conducted by Anthony Collins. The LP was lost many years ago during one move or another and about 10 years ago I saw it in a 2nd hand record shop (probably Henry Bohns, in Liverpool) and had to buy it. I played t as soon as I got home. It was not as good as I remembered it and I have not played it since. I have other heard since those youthful days, other performances of Delius by Beecham, Barbirolli and Mark Elder that have surpassed the performances under Anthony Collins and the LSO.
I cannot recall what made me buy this LP. Back I the 70s LPs were comparatively expensive, which is why I only had two LPs at the time, and I had to rely on low-budget LPs from labels such as mfp and cfp. This album was on the decca eclipse label, which reprinted material from Decca’s back catalogue. I think I had heard some Delius on the radio, probably “On hearing the First Cuckoo of Spring” – which is why I bought this album. I loved the English pastoral depiction of nature in this piece. Delius is one of the most English of composers and also the most cosmopolitan. He was born in Bradford – and you can’t get more English than Yorkshire – his parents were German born of Dutch origin, and Frederick was christened “Fritz” – which he later changed. Delius moved to Florida, then to Germany and Norway before settling down in France.

His short piece “On hearing the First cuckoo in spring” opens with a short exchange of two-note cuckoo calls on horn against a background of shimmering strings, more bird song from the woodwind before the strings take up the cuckoo call. The main theme of the piece is taken from a folk song with variations from clarinet and strings with the cuckoo call throughout. What could be more evocative of an English Spring?

Except the main theme is taken from a Norwegian folk song “In Ola valley.” The piece, written in 1912 and first performed in Leipzig in 1913 is the first of “Two short pieces for Small Orchestra” – the other piece being “Summer Night on the River.”

I have never lost my love for the music of Delius who is still able to conjure up in sound a pastoral beauty that is both peculiarly English and yet truly cosmopolitan and universal.

 

 

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