|1. Norfolk Rhapsody No. 2 In D Minor - Larghetto-Allegro-Molto Tranquillo|
|2. I. Molto Moderato-Poco Tranquillo-Tempo I-Largamente-Tempo I|
|3. II. Lento Moderato-Poco Tranquillo, Tempo Rubato-Tempo I|
|4. III. Moderato Pesante-Poco Animato-A Tempo-Presto|
|5. IV. Lento-Moderato Maestoso-Animato-Poco Piu Lento- Tempo I|
|6. The Running Set - Presto|
|7. Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1 In E Minor - Adagio-Allegro Vivace-Tempo I (Lento)|
The third is an elusive piece but Hickox and the LSO manage to present tension alongside radiance, nobility and light alongside darkness and tragedy in a piece awash with emotional ambiguity as well as bitonality. The result is excellent, but for once in this series, not quite as convincing as Previn's recording for RCA with the same orchestra. Previn's performance also seems better judged as sound, though it can't boast the superb richness of the new Chandos. What I mean by that first comment is that Previn gets little balances just right, like the appropriate toughness in the strings at times (whereas Hickox's are consistently rich), the way the trumpet is placed at just the tight distance in the second (in Chandos' second movement you're more likely to remark on some off-stage door and floor noises), the lightness of touch in the Moderato movement and the soprano's first entrance in the last movement (here just a bit too full and forward).
As you'd expect, Hickox and Chandos get a lot else spot on, - the way the flute duets with the triangle in the 2nd Norfolk Rhapsody is great music and great recording. But the strings are "held back" a little in the same piece, which adds to the tension but doesn't feel quite right in being maintained almost throughout the piece. The first (better known) rhapsody is more successful (though even here I detected a slight distortion in the right speaker at one point).
What really bugged me though was the programming of the Running Set, - it follows the Symphony's tense, sighing, ambiguously beautiful close by a bare two seconds and romps away as a dance piece. Totally inappropriate and unintelligent (fun piece though it is). Yes, I know you can program it out, but it would have been so easy to program a decent silence in and put the "Set" first on the disc.
I know this review sounds a bit picky but it does have to be compared not only to the Previn performance but also to the performance, sound and programming given to this team's own fourth and second. The great is the enemy of the very good here, because if I'd never heard the Hickox/Chandos 4th, I'd probably have given this very good third a 5 but I'll be a mean old sod and go for 4 for the reasons given above.
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