Simon Callaghan, Hiroaki Takenouchi, pianos
Following SOMM’s successful release, last year, of Volume I of arrangements for two pianos of Delius’s orchestral music (SOMMCD 0112, A Dance Rhapsody No. 1, On hearing the First Cuckoo in spring, Brigg Fair, Poem of Life and Love, A Song of Summer, La Calinda) SOMM has now released Volume II transcribed by largely the same composers and friends of Delius in the same enjoyable, interesting mix as before.
Delius was part of the English music circle that grew up around the so-called Frankfurt Gang of young composers who had studied there in the 1890s: Percy Grainger, Norman O’Neill, Balfour Gardiner, Roger Quilter and Cyril Scott. Two of these – Grainger and Gardiner – Delius’s later-acquired young protégé Philip Heseltine and his faithful amanuensis Eric Fenby together made twelve out of the total of eighteen published four-hand arrangements and a fifteenth was made by his first great champion in Germany and friend, the conductor Julius Buths.
It was Buths who arranged Paris – The Song of a Great City for two pianos. Delius’s first major work, it is a musical impression of the city at night. Buths’ transcription successfully conveys the bewitching colours of the original – snatches of a soulful melody, street cries, rhythmic snatches and the sudden raucous noise of Parisian street life.
Eventyr (Once upon a time) – arr. for piano duet by Benjamin Dale. Although Delius and his wife Jelka lived in France most of their lives, Norway was his real spiritual home. His love of the country’s scenic grandeur completely overwhelmed him when he first visited it as a 19-year old and he became deeply interested in its culture, folklore and literature. Eventyr strongly suggests a dramatic narrative based on Norway’s folklore inhabited by dwarves, trolls, witches and giants.
Fantastic Dance (arr. by Ethel Bartlett & Rae Robertson). Written three years before Delius’s death this unusual work is based on rhythmic ideas ending rather quirkily with a harp glissando and a loud pizzicato C major string chord! First performed under Adrian Boult in 1934 it’s not often heard nowadays and we hope the two-piano arrangement will help give the work renewed interest.
Summer Night on the River (arr. Philip Heseltine). This is the second of the Two pieces for small orchestra. The first, On hearing the first Cuckoo in spring appeared in Volume I (SOMMCD 0112). Both pieces were dedicated to Delius’s great friend Balfour Gardiner.
The Song of the High Hills – arranged by Percy Grainger, is another Norwegian-inspired and unique work for wordless chorus and large orchestra. Delius said “I have tried to express the joy and exhilaration one feels in the Mountains & also the loneliness & melancholy of the high Solitudes & the grandeur of the far wide distance. The human voices represent man in Nature: an episode, which becomes fainter & then disappears altogether.” Grainger’s evocative arrangement and the two pianists’ sensitive imagination and impeccable technique combine to retain the intimacy and magic in this work.
Steinway Artist Simon Callaghan is in great demand internationally as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher. He has performed in most of the UK’s concert venues and has toured South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Japan. He has also worked at the Banff Centre, Canada, most recently in collaboration with the ‘cellist Raphael Wallfisch. He has broadcast for Radio 3 and on BBC Television.
As Artistic Director of the famous Conway Hall Sunday concert series, he is strongly dedicated to chamber music and has worked with Jack Liebeck, Tim Hugh and the Carducci, Maggini and Sacconi Quartets among others in highly acclaimed performances.
“I was very impressed by his fluent, skilful pianistm and his innate musicality. Heplays with intelligence and conviction and I wish him much success in his musical career.” Stephen Hough
Born in Japan, Hiroaki Takenouchi has been based in London since 1997. He has appeared on concert platforms throughout the UK, Japan, Europe and North and Central America. Recent highlights include a concerto recording with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and a highly acclaimed appearance on the BBC documentary “The Prince and the Composer” on the life and music of Parry.
Takenouchi is known as one of the most versatile pianists of his generation, with a wide repertoire ranging from the core works of the piano literature to lesser known composers. He is also a passionate advocate of contemporary music and his discography includes world premiere recordings of works by Edwin Roxburgh, Jeremy Dale Roberts, James Dillon and Dai Fujikura.
“The seeming ease of virtuosic technique which he unleased on the piano, coupled with an impressive palette of colours and sonorities, was a joy to listen to.” Musical Opinion.
On This Recording
- Paris: The Song of a Great City: Paris: The Song of a Great City (arr. J. Buths for 2 pianos)
- Eventyr: Eventyr, "Once Upon a Time" (arr. B. Dale for 2 pianos)
- Fantastic Dance: Fantastic Dance (arr. E. Bartlett and R. Robertson for 2 pianos)
- Summer Night on the River: Summer Night on the River (arr. P. Warlock for 2 pianos)
- The Song of the High Hills: The Song of the High Hills (arr. P. Grainger for 2 pianos)