Recorded on May 29th 1929.
Roy Henderson’s ’Delius Seadrift’, originally recorded in 1929, is a stunning limited edition LP set, a rare collectors piece that is housed in a beautiful, gold and black embossed 10” circular tin, which replicates the majesty of Deccas early label. It is strictly limited to 900 copies, arriving to coincide with the special celebratory 400-page book for Decca and the label’s return to its ‘Lost Studio’, it is a special product to cherish.
Recorded on May 29th 1929 at the Chenil Galleries in Chelsea, UK, the British baritone Roy Henderson’s record ’Delius Seadrift’ was Decca’s first release and was issued to coincide with the annual Delius Festival in July 1929.
Roy Henderson was a leading baritone in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s. He was best known as an interpreter of Frederick Delius, but his long and rich musical career included singing with Elgar, performing at the first Glyndebourne season and teaching Kathleen Ferrier. ’Delius Seadrift’ - a 24-minute piece - was Frederick Delius’ setting of Walt Whitman’s poetry to music, creating a shifting, gentle piece, that has always remained a firm favourite of fans of the composer.
Throughout the work, the motion of the waves is suggested by the orchestra. The chorus opens (the beginning of the poem, 'Out of the cradle...' is omitted) at 'Once Paumanok, when the lilac-scent was in the air...', two sections weaving the words to suggest the two birds. Then the baritone is the narrator, and tells ('And every day...') how the boy went and watched, and the chorus responds with the birds singing together ('Shine! shine! shine!'). The baritone interrupts ('Till of a sudden...') to tell how the she-bird disappeared, and the he-bird was left. The chorus gives the bird's cry, and the baritone responds with the lyrical passage describing how the boy listened to the song, 'Yes my brother, I know: The rest might not, but I have treasured every note...'
The remainder of the setting is from the text of the bird's song (somewhat edited), (beginning 'Soothe! soothe! soothe!') overlapping as the baritone sings 'Following you, my brother...': from this point on the baritone takes important sections of the bird's song ('You must know who I am, my love!'), with the chorus singing other parts of the text at the same time, interweaving, reinforcing, echoing and punctuating the singer's narrative. Love becomes the power which drives the effects of nature ('O madly the sea pushes upon the land,/With love, with love'). The choral phrases 'O rising stars! Perhaps the one I want so much will rise, will rise with some of you' pivots between two passages where despair alternates with the delusional hope for a glimpse or an echo of the beloved. This culminates in the fortissimo 'O in vain!', repeated by the chorus as the climax, and then the long coda, mainly sung by the baritone ('O I am very sick and sorrowful'), lamenting the loss of their life together ('We two together no more'), and the words 'no more' echoed like the murmuring sea and wind by the choir, bring the work to a close.
By this blending of the narrator with the choir in the words of the bird's song, Delius has achieved the union of the boy's spirit with what he witnesses, in the way that is explained in the later part of Whitman's poem, and Delius does not have to tell us about the 'low and delicious word death.'
With the latest technology at Abbey Road, they present this historic recording to you twice: a ‘needle drop’ flat transfer of the original 1929 recording on the A sides of the 3 discs, and then a cleaned up as much as possible version on the B sides. Both sides will be available digitally on a download card. ‘Delius Seadrift’ is housed in a beautiful, gold and black embossed 10” circular tin, which replicates the majesty of that early label – a bust of Beethoven presiding over the bold claim ‘THE SUPREME RECORD’. Each set has a numbered fact sheet, and the records themselves are protected by die cut foam discs.