Delius: Hassan - complete incidental music

Delius: Hassan - complete incidental music

CHAN 20296 (Chandos Records, CD)

FIRST RELEASE (19 April 2024)

Playing time: 80'25"
Tracks: 50
Booklet pages: 40
℗ 2024 Chandos Records Ltd
© 2024 Chandos Records Ltd
Main country of recording: United Kingdom
Reviewer: Gerald Fenech
Review of Delius: Hassan - complete incidental music published on 25 April 2024

Zeb Soanes, narrator, Ishak
Britten Sinfonia Voices
Eamonn Dougan, chorus master
Britten Sinfonia
Thomas Gould, leader
Jamie Phillips, conductor

Frederick Delius:

Hassan, RTI/9 (1920-23) - The Story of Hassan of Bagdad and How He Came to Make the Golden Journey to Samarkand - Complete Incidental Music to the Poetic Prose Play in Five Acts (1911-13) by James Elroy Flecker (1884-1915) with Linking Narration by Meurig Bowen

Although he had initially declined the commission, Delius was persuaded to write the incidental music for Hassan by the actor and director Basil Dean in July 1920, for performances he was planning for His Majesty's Theatre, London, the following year. Much of the music was drafted within a few weeks, and the score would eventually prove one of the greatest successes of Delius' career. Dean's plans for the project encountered significant obstacles and delays, however, and he had to commission additional music from Delius to cover the production's complex scene changes. The London premiere eventually took place on 20 September 1923 and was a critical sensation. Flecker's play is a sinuous double narrative that intertwines the twin stories of the lovelorn but worldly-wise Hassan, confectioner at the court of the cruel and vindictive Caliph Haroun al Rashid - called Haroun ar Rashid in Flecker's play - and the young lovers Pervaneh and Rafi, caught up in the aftermath of a failed uprising and condemned to a terrifying and brutally protracted death. In tone and setting, Flecker's text drew on nineteenth century English translations of One Thousand and One Nights as well as other heavily fictionalised accounts and travel literature. Very much a product of the racial and class-based attitudes of its time, the play revels in imaginary scenes of a despotic Eastern court and its gruesomely barbaric practices.

Recorded live on 11 November 2022 at Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, Essex, UK.