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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Delius: Irmelin

08/27/2017 1:00 pm
08/27/2017 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

I always reserve the last Sunday in August for one of the operas of Frederick Delius (1856-1934). I do so because his music is so evocative of the lazy, hazy end of Summertime. Longtime readers of our WWUH Program Guide may remember my four-part series on the seven operas of Delius and the attributes of his impressionistic style, which appeared in the Guide in 1988-89.

This Sunday we commence a fifth cycle of broadcasts of all his operas with his first one, Irmelin (1892). It's his single longest musical composition: a gorgeous fairy tale of an opera with a libretto by the composer himself, based partly on Hans Christian Andersen's version of the medieval romance of the Princess and the Swineherd. Irmelin never asw the stage in Delius' lifetime. A pity, too, since composers Edvard Grieg and Andre Messager praised its music. In 1953 Delius' friend and promoter Sir Thomas Beecham conducted an amateur performance of Irmelin which went unrecorded.

In December, 1984 it was given in concert performance from the studios of the BBC Third Programme. The recording of that broadcast was issued under the BBC's Artium label, first on LP, then in CD format. I aired the three LP set way back in August of 1986, and the two CD reissue four times before in 1990, 1998, 2005 and 2010. Norman del Mar directs the BBC Concert Orchestra and BBC Singers. A world-premiere digital recording.