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HomeOperaTony Cooper opinions Naxos' eight-disc field set

Tony Cooper opinions Naxos’ eight-disc field set

A Vaughan Williams Anthology: Tony Cooper reviews Naxos' eight-disc box set

Ralph Vaughan Williams was considered one of England’s most illustrious composers and this specifically curated choice of works issued as an 8-cd box-set anthology by NAXOS clearly demonstrates the sheer breadth of the composer’s achievements providing a rewarding and becoming legacy punctuating the composer’s 150 celebrations of 2022

1. Symphony No.1 (A Sea Symphony). Joan Rodgers (soprano), Christopher Maltman (baritone). Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Refrain, cond. Paul Daniel.

2. Symphony No.2 (A London Symphony) / The Wasps Overture. Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, cond. Kees Bakels.

3. Symphonies Nos. 5 and 9. Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, cond. Kees Bakels.

4. Fantasia on Greensleeves / Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis / Norfolk Rhapsody No.1 in E minor / Within the Fen Nation / Concerto Grosso. New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, cond. James Judd.

5. The Lark Ascending / Suite of Six Quick Items for Piano / The Solent / Fantasia. Jennifer Pike (violin), Sina Kloke (piano). Chamber Orchestra of New York, cond. Salvatore di Vittorio.

6. Phantasy Quintet / String Quartets Nos.1 & 2. Maggini String Quartet, Garfield Jackson (viola).

7. Willow-Wooden (a cantata for baritone and orchestra) / The Sons of Gentle / Towards the Unknown Area / 5 Variants of Dives and Lazarus. Roderick Williams (baritone). Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, cond. David Lloyd-Jones.

8. Sacred Choral Music together with Mass in G minor. The Choir of Clare Faculty Cambridge, James McVinnie and Ashok Gupta (organ), cond. Timothy Brown. 

As a serious Twentieth-century symphonist, Vaughan Williams – considered one of England’s most illustrious and well-respected composers and a widely known determine in Norwich attending conferences of the Norfolk & Norwich Triennial Pageant within the Thirties – is represented in NAXOS’ 8-cd box-set anthology (marking the RVW 150 celebrations of 2022) by 4 critically acclaimed recordings of his 9 symphonies comprising No.1 (A Sea Symphony) by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Refrain below Paul Daniel that includes Joan Rodgers (soprano) and Chistopher Maltman (baritone) whereas No.2 (A London Symphony) and Nos.5 & 9 are additionally by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra below Dutch conductor, Kees Bakels.

In style orchestral works are additionally included, too, such because the celebrated Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis carried out by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra below James Judd and The Lark Ascending that includes Jennifer Pike (violin) whereas The Solent and Six Quick Items for Piano that includes German pianist Sina Kloke are carried out by the Chamber Orchestra of New York below Salvatore Di Vittorio. The Maggini String Quartet are properly boxed in there, too, enjoying the second and third string quartets plus the Phantasy Quintet with visitor violist, Garfield Jackson.

And the chic Mass in G minor – a piece displaying Vaughan Williams’ absorbing curiosity in utilizing the modal harmonic language and contrapuntal textures of the English late Renaissance to attain an enormous emotional and dynamic vary – will get a gallant efficiency by the Choir of Clare Faculty, Cambridge, below Timothy Brown, whose assistant at one time was David Dunnett, presently organist at Norwich Cathedral.

In some ways, Ralph Vaughan Williams (whose mother and father weren’t satisfied that he was gifted sufficient to pursue a musical profession) might nicely be described a ‘Norfolk man’ inasmuch as when Sir Henry Wooden took cost of the Norfolk & Norwich Triennial Pageant (on the helm from 1908 to 1930) he broadened the vary of orchestral music and persuaded many younger English composers to carry out and conduct their very own compositions in Norwich.

Curiously, considered one of these younger composers was none aside from Ralph Vaughan Williams who thereafter often visited Norwich whereas his widow and second spouse, Ursula, attended the N&N Triennial conferences of 1979 and 1982, curated by Norman Del Mar, holding good firm with Shirley, Girl Beecham and gin and tonic!

Maestro Wooden, in actual fact, was the primary to conduct Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony in St Andrew’s Corridor, Norwich, following the work’s première on the Leeds Pageant in 1910 whereas music for the ballet, Job – A Masque for Dancing (a N&N Triennial fee) obtained its world première on the 1930 Triennial assembly in the identical venue.

And when Sir Thomas Beecham arrived to take cost of the 1936 Triennial, Vaughan Williams’ 5 Tudor Portraits (one other N&N Triennial fee) obtained its world première. The truth is, to have fun the N&N Pageant’s 250th anniversary this 12 months, a uncommon efficiency of 5 Tudor Portraits was carried out by the Norwich Philharmonic Refrain (refrain grasp: David Dunnett) and the Britten Sinfonia, led by violinist Clio Gould, below the baton of William Vann. The soloists had been Rebecca Afonwy-Jones (mezzo-soprano) and Dominic Sedgwick (baritone) [see Tony’s review].

The sell-out live performance additionally included Vaughan Williams’ Norfolk Rhapsody No.1 in E minor and I’m glad to see that this pretty and alluring piece can be represented within the box-set anthology and given a splendid efficiency, too, by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra below James Judd.

A pleasant quartet of works by Vaughan Williams (Willow-Wooden, a cantata for baritone and orchestra that includes Roderick Williams, The Sons of Gentle, In direction of the Unknown Area and 5 Variants of Dives and Lazarus) are brilliantly carried out by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, performed by David Lloyd-Jones, stamping the seal of approval, I really feel, on this ‘must-have’ RVW 8-cd box-set anthology wherein to recollect (and recall) the 150 celebrations of 2022 of this well-loved English composer. What a deal with! A pleasant deal with, although, would have been the inclusion of 5 Tudor Portraits. However you can not have the whole lot you need in life!

Historic be aware: Norwich initially shared its pageant on a triennial foundation with Leeds and Birmingham in the identical method that the Three Choirs Pageant rotate to this very day between the cathedral cities of Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester.

Additional data from the Naxos web site.

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