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Vaughan Williams: Symphonies [Valery Polyansky, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Boris Abalian] [Melodiya: MELCD 1002170] [Box set]

Elena Dof-Donskaya; The USSR State Chamber Choir; The State Symphony Orchestra of the USSR Ministry of Culture; Tatiana Smoryakova; Boris Vasiliev; The Choir of the Leningrad Music Society; The Choir of the Rimsky-Korsakov Music College , Ralph Vaughan Williams , Valery Polyansky , Gennady Rozhdestvensky , Boris Abalian Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Conductor: Valery Polyansky, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Boris Abalian
  • Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Audio CD (2 Jun 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 6
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Melodiya
  • ASIN: B00JU5DGY8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,853 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Product Description


'it's wonderful to hear this rapt, quintessential RVW music played with such sincerity and sensitivity by the Russian orchestra' --John Quinn, MusicWeb, June 2014

'not all the convincing accounts of Vaughan Williams are necessarily by English or British musicians, and indeed the Russians here make their case engagingly. Definitely worth a listen for a different perspective on Vaughan Williams' symphonic output' --David Smith, 20th June 2014, Presto Classical

'Rozhdestvensky makes this music sound urban, high-rise, occasionally sinister, and loving in a very human way. There is nothing in the local catologue even remotely like it.' --Rob Cowan, Gramophone, August 2014

Product Description

Symphonies n°1, n°2, n°3, n°5, n°6, n°8 & n°9 / The USSR State Chamber Choir - The State Symphony Orchestra of the USSR Ministry of Culture - The Choir of the Leningrad Music Society - The Choir of the Rimsky-Korsakov Music College - Valery Polyansky, Gennady Rozhdestvensky & Alexander Vereshchagin, direction

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning R.V.W symphonies on Melodiya 10 July 2014
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Buy now before the deletions axe strikes!This is the greatest set of the complete symphonies since Boults.Ignore some minor technical flaws----the interpretations are magnificant.The greatest performances are 9,7,4,3 and 6 in that order.The London is lively and very well played.As you would expect the Russian brass is thrilling but there also much lyrical tenderness in particular the ravishing Romanza of no.5.This set confirms my view that no.9 is a great symphony.The great performance, at the 2008 Proms, by Sir Andrew Davis of no.9 ended the absurd idea that this symphony showed a falling off of musical inspiration as in reality it showed R.V.W. on top form and looking to the future.Quite remarkable for a man of 85!Please buy this set as it will give you great pleasure and comfirm Vaughan Williams as the greatest British symphonist of theC20th,and he can be placed in the pantheon with Nielsen,Sibelius,Schostakovich and Prokofiev as one of the greatest symphonists of the C20th.Start with the great performance of no 9 but where ever you start you in for a treat.I must confess the Russian voice timbre in The Sea Symphony sounds a little strange but it is still a marvelous account.Whoever states British music cannot be played by foreign orchestras should listen to this set and have their prejudices confounded.Robert J.Parry.Great Yarmouth.Norfolk.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vaughan Williams on Melodiya! 11 Jun 2014
By Jeffrey Davis VINE VOICE
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My goodness, I never thought that I would live to see this. True, Rozhdestvensky recorded the Fifth Symphony and Sancta Civitas on an old, long gone BBC Radio Classics CD, but that very fine performance was with the BBC SO. What we have here is a complete set of the symphonies recorded at live concerts at the end of the soviet era (1988-89). The audience appear to enjoy the works and someone always seems to shout out their approval amidst the applause (I wonder if it is the same person?) This is for me the most exciting Vaughan Williams release since the Hickox recording of the 1913 version of 'A London Symphony'. It is rather like the appearance of the Vernon Handley cycle of the Bax symphonies on Chandos when none had been previously available, although Rozhdestvensky's Melodiya 'A Sea Symphony' had been around before. I enjoyed all the performances, which have a soviet accent (literally at the opening of Symphony No.1) but are completely idiomatic, deeply felt and performed with a great sense of urgency - I enjoyed them all and, for the first time ever, listened to the entire cycle in chronological sequence. As they are live performances not everything goes well and at the very opening of No 6 it sounds like the orchestra are not quite starting at the same time, but otherwise this is a very fine performance, although a bit unsettling to hear the Epilogue sounding louder as it progresses. I agree with the booklet note writer that No. 6 is the greatest of all the cycle as it combines the violence of No. 4 with the spiritual qualities of No. 5 to create a most disturbing synthesis. I thought that the greatest performance of all was No. 7 'Sinfonia Antartica' notwithstanding an odd 'Dr Phibes' moment during an organ solo. The saxophonies in the sixth and ninth symphonies are suitably 'jazzy'. Read more ›
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As others see us 19 Jun 2014
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During his tenure as principal conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1978-81) Gennady Rozhdestvensky announced his intention to give a cycle of Vaughan Williams symphonies in Russia. This Melodiya release, taken from live broadcasts of concerts in the Grand Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic Society between 1988 and 1989, sees the realisation of that intention, and most interesting it is. Here we have a complete cycle of the nine symphonies of a composer considered quintessentially 'English', interpreted by a major Russian conductor and performers for whom the project must have represented a voyage into hitherto uncharted waters.
However, I think it important that potential purchasers of this cycle are aware of exactly what is on offer. This is a collection of live, unedited performances from broadcast material which suffers from a number of drawbacks, not least the microphone placing which, at times, gives undue prominence to certain instruments whilst pushing others into the background. This leads to serious problems of balance which affects the listener's perception of the harmony and gives a false impression of what is in the score. Furthermore, the USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra, although excellent in some areas, does not sound like a world class body and I have a suspicion that the strings were not up to full strength, the violin tone being rather scrawny and undernourished at times (unusual in a Russian orchestra where the standard is normally so high). The performances themselves are marred in places by fluffed notes, poor intonation, misreads, misunderstandings of instructions and examples of untidy ensemble (some verging on the catastrophic).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
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Whether coincidence or not I cannot say, but the release of this set coincides with the completion of a series of concerts by veteran Maestro Rozhdestvensky spread over 3 years and entitled "Albion."
In this series, given in Moscow and St. Petersburg with various orchestras including the one featured on this set, he conducted not only the complete symphonies of RVW, Elgar and Walton, but other works by Bax, Britten, Moeran and Finzi.

The set under review emanates from the mid 1980s and is recorded from live concerts in ADD sound, not the DDD of the contemporary Mahler cycle under Svetlanov.
If the sound is a little less immediate than the Svetlanov, it is generally very pleasing with very good balance with great detail and a good deal of warmth. There is a real sense of a concert environment, unfortunately enhanced by the occasional cough and splutter from the audience, but overall this is a plus.
These symphonies are challenging technically-even the BRSO comes awry at times in their electrifying recording of the 6th under the late Sir Colin Davis, so it is no surprise that the USSR Symphony struggles with precision at various points-but overall the technical standard is breathtaking!

I've long been a foremost advocate of British Music being performed by non-British Conductors and Orchestras who devoid of any parochial baggage and performing tradition interpret the music as "pure" music, not "English" music, and this set more than other I can recall demonstrates the benefits as passage after passage unfold with new and challenging insights-not just as "Great English Music" but as "Great Music.
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