Robert Spano and the ASO's previous Vaughan Williams 'A Sea Symphony' recording released in 2002 won three GRAMMY awards (Best Classical Album, Best Choral performance and Best Classical Engineered Album) and was well-received by British critics:
The first track on this new release is Thomas Tallis' four-part a cappella hymn "Why fum'th in fight", the tune which forms the basis for Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis. Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 5, premiered in 1943 during World War II, was a contrast to his Foruth symphony and was instantly recognized as an island of serenity in a time of great uncertainty.
'Serenade to Music' has been called one of the most sublime musical creations of the 20th century. Set to the final scene of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, it was originally created for 16 soloists, but the composer designed the work so that it could also be performed by four soloists and chorus. This work was composed for and dedicated to Sir Henry Wood - who instituted London's Promenade Concerts - in celebration of his 50th anniversary as a conductor.
Robert Spano (conductor), Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus, Jessica Rivera (soprano), Kelley O'Connor (mezzo-soprano), Thomas Studebaker (tenor), Nmon Ford (baritone)