London Symphony Orchestra & Sir John Barbirolli – Ireland, Bax & Delius: English Tone Pictures (1967/2020) [FLAC 24bit/192kHz]

London Symphony Orchestra & Sir John Barbirolli – Ireland, Bax & Delius: English Tone Pictures (1967/2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 54:40 minutes | 1,97 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Warner Classics

English Tone Pictures by Sir John Barbirolli – Side One features two very gifted composers in John Ireland and Arnold Bax, Band 1 features John Ireland (1879-1962) who is described as one of the most gifted composers of the English ‘Renaissance’. Arnold Bax confessed himself a brazen romantic; yet his romanticism was as much intellectual as purely emotional, and though his music is full of personal feeling he was not an emotionally self indulgent composer.

Features the composer Delius who though born in Bradford West Yorkshire was not of English descent; and he lived most of his life in France,in a house by the river at Grez-Sur-Loing. Yet the the spirit of his most characteristic music is unmistakably English, in the true line of the English Nature poets; and it remains so even when he is dealing outwardly with a foreign landscape.

“As with his Mahler Fifth or his MADAMA BUTTERFLY with La Scotto and Bergonzi, this is one of Barbirolli’s most rewarding EMI releases, laid down in the autumn of his career in August 1965 and July 1966 sessions with the LSO in Kingsway Hall, produced by Ronald Kinloch Anderson with Christopher Palmer and beautifully engineered by Christopher Parker. Its variant titles were ENGLISH TONE PICTURES or ENGLISH TONE POEMS, always covered with a smashing Constable reproduction and perfectly sequenced with the Ireland overture first, the stunning TINTAGEL and then a full side of Delius miniatures concluding appropriately with the dying fall of SONG OF SUMMER.

This was classical albummaking at its best (not coincidentally, Kinloch Anderson was Walter Legge’s direct successor among EMI prestige producers), the concept and presentation worked splendidly, and EMI then embarked upon its two-decade run of recording British composers, known and unknown, with thoroughness and patriotic pride. Delius, a connoisseur collector’s guilty secret with few recordings available apart from Beecham or Collins, was rediscovered in a major way by EMI artistes, nearly entering the musical mainstream through deluxe recordings (though concert performances have predictably remained few).

The Abbey Road remastering is splendid, doing justice to Parker’s engineering (and to Sir John’s zeal in performing his intense, Italianate alt-Delius). The keeper performances here are, however, the Bax and Ireland, and the ideal original sequencing is tampered with by interpolating Barbirolli’s August 1968 Hallé performances of “La calinda” and IN A SUMMER GARDEN—soporific, sluggish takes that tarnish his Delian legacy. Those interloper tracks are omitted on EMI’s first-generation digital reissue (not an Abbey Road remaster) of ENGLISH TONE POEMS (1987), which preserves all the magic and the original sequencing, unmolested by interpolation, of the original LSO vinyl. As reissued here, it’s a glamourous highlight in Barbirolli’s discography and, indeed, one of the greater orchestral programmes of its midcentury.

Digitally remastered

1. Ireland: A London Overture (12:24)
2. Bax: Tintagel (15:06)
3. Delius / Arr. Beecham: A Village Romeo and Juliet: The Walk to the Paradise Garden (09:51)
4. Delius: Irmelin Prelude (05:50)
5. Delius: Song of Summer (11:29)