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  • Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5; Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis; Serenade to Music
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Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5; Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis; Serenade to Music CD

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Featuring Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus

Telarc releases The Singing Rooms on September 21st, 2010. The CD features the world premieres of Pulitzer Prize winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s [b 1962] “The Singing ... Read more in Amazon's Robert Spano Store

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Robert Spano
  • Composer: Thomas Tallis, Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Audio CD (19 Dec. 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Telarc Classical
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 237,402 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. "Why Fum'th In Fight?"0:55£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis16:23Album Only
Listen  3. Symphony No. 5: Preludio: Moderato12:16Album Only
Listen  4. Symphony No. 5: Scherzo: Presto 5:15£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Symphony No. 5: Romanza: Lento11:55Album Only
Listen  6. Symphony No. 5: Passacaglia: Moderato10:28Album Only
Listen  7. Serenade To Music13:05Album Only

Product Description

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)

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By Nobody TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Aug. 2014
Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra might not be expected to be at home with something so quintessentially English but I have to say that both they and the chorus do not put a foot wrong in each of the works. The Tallis Fantasia sounds quite earnest and intense: more than a match for most versions. the Fifth Symphony gets a quite radiant and transparent rendition almost as atmospheric as Previn's RCA recording of it. Despite that Spano never loses the musical argument's thread and its progress has a sense of inevitability, beautifully summed up in the finale's closing section. Overall it is a thoroughly satisfying performance.

The Serenade To Music is possibly even better and the choir, with such excellent diction, really steal the show. So this recording comes highly recommended. There have been many fine recordings of Vaughan Williams by the likes of Boult, Handley, Barbirolli etc but don't be frightened to look elsewhere; you might get a pleasant surprise. It's reassuring too to know that this music can travel well beyond these shores.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey J. Marshall on 24 Oct. 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
this is a beautiful relaxing cd.i lie on my lounge shut my eyes and let the music take over. the atlanta symphony is a very very good orchestra. The symphony no 5 has beautiful melodic pieces which show off the strings perfectly.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful Performances, Especially of the Symphony 24 Dec. 2007
By M. C. Passarella - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This CD usefully and attractively collects some of Vaughan Williams' most serenely beautiful music, including his "other" pastoral symphony, the Symphony No. 5 written in the early years of World War II. As the notes to the recording state, the first hearers of this symphony were possibly perplexed to hear this gentle successor to the angry, militant Symphony No. 4 completed in 1934 as war clouds gathered over Europe. I guess it just goes to prove that interior states and external events don't always square with one another in the creative life. After all, Beethoven and Mozart both created some of their sunniest and most confident works at difficult periods in their lives. And there's no indication that Mozart was in extremis when he wrote some of his most tragically intense compositions, such as the Piano Concerto No. 20 and Symphony No. 40. So how to explain the pastoral radiance of Vaughan Williams' Fifth? No way to fully explain it, perhaps. However, the notes to the recording reveal that Vaughn Williams wrote the symphony while working on his opera The Pilgrim's Progress, so it's not surprising that the two works share the message of comfort in adversity that is at the heart of John Bunyan's allegorical tale.

Actually, when I first heard this symphony, in a critically acclaimed version by Previn back in the 1970s, I really didn't get it. I thought it was a pale sibling of the hard-hitting Fourth; the alternately manic and depressive Sixth; the cinematic Seventh; the brilliantly orchestrated, classically proportioned Eighth. But certainly I get this symphony in Spano's fine performance. He shapes the long melodic lines with tenderness and yet finds the points of tension, in the first and last movements especially, that reflect the troubling times in which the work was written. And Spano addresses the quiet affirmation of the slow movement, the elfin quirkiness of the woodwind-dominated scherzo, with equal success. No small thanks are due the Atlanta Symphony, playing about as beautifully as I've heard them play, and a Telarc recording that is just gorgeous, imparting a sheen to the strings and a golden flare to the brass that you won't hear, sadly, in person at Atlanta's Symphony Hall. How Telarc is able to achieve such fine results in so deficient a hall is beyond me.

The other pieces on the recording, even the substantial Serenade to Music, can be viewed as bonuses. Spano's is an excellent performance of the Serenade, but any recording must be measured against the classic one by Adrian Boult, who performs the original version for sixteen solo voices. The original version is uniquely lovely, and Boult's recording featured the finest singers in England at the time, including Norma Burroughs and Ian Partridge. Still, Spano's forces are all very convincing in his recording, and the superb digital sound is a significant plus. It's also very nice to hear the short hymn tune by Thomas Tallis on which Vaughan Williams' famous Fantasia is based.

But the reason to get this disc is the performance and recording of the symphony. Even if you own another version, this will be an ear-opener for you.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Over an hour of gorgeous music 7 Sept. 2007
By Samer Ismail - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Two of the works on this disc--Vaughan Williams' Fifth Symphony and the Tallis Fantasia--are actually rather hard to review. That's because the works themselves are so sublimely written (the reception the Fifth received, according to one VW scholar, was on par with Beethoven's Ninth) that even a barely competent performance will sound beautiful. Needless to say, though, Atlanta's performance here is far better than "barely competent." And while there are a couple of spots where Spano makes slightly unusual performance choices, the beauty of these works is never obscured. That said, my main reason for buying this CD was not the orchestral works; I already have four or five copies of each. Rather, it was the choral tracks that open and close the disc.

The opening track is actually a performance of the "Theme by Thomas Tallis" quoted by Vaughan Williams in the Fantasia, performed by 20 members of the Atlanta Symphony Chamber Chorus. (Kudos to Telarc, by the way, for actually listing all the members of the orchestra and chorus.) Surprisingly, given the relative simplicity of the piece, this is the first CD I know of that includes both the Fantasia and the original theme.

The closing track contains what is--by comparison to the other Vaughan Williams works--a relative rarity, the "Serenade to Music." This piece, perhaps even more beautiful than the Fantasia and Symphony, is a setting of a scene from Act V of "The Merchant of Venice." Originally written for 16 soloists, Vaughan Williams reworked it (slightly) so that it could be performed by a four-part chorus with soloists--and that is the version here, featuring the full Chamber Chorus of about 80 members. And while I can't say that the choral version is my favorite version for the Serenade (that would have to go to the near-perfect 16-soloist Hyperion version), this version is, again, far more than "adequate."

Needless to say, I cannot recommend this disc highly enough. (If you can afford it, I'd get the Hyperion disc too, since the only work they have "in common" is the Serenade.)
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Sweet music to treasure INDEED! 14 Oct. 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The Amazon.com Editorial Reviews here are absolutely on the mark altogether. The most recorded orchestra in America again proves its world class with these Grammy nominated performances. Vaughan Williams' mastery of choral craftsmanship is without peer. Mackenzie's ASO Chamber Chorus mellifluously and precisely nails it perfectly in every aspect along with top notch guest soloists. This is an album of sweet, pure, unrestrained expressions of the human spirit. Prepare to be transported to the heavens.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The spectrum of Ralph Vaughan Williams 25 May 2013
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
What more can be said than is already posted here. This recording with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus is surely one of the richest and most refined of any available recording of these works at present. The sound that has developed in the Atlanta Symphony is now richer and has more depth and the first desk players are first class.

But the major reason for selecting to add this version of the primary piece on the CD - the Symphony No. 5, excellent as this performance and sound engineering are - is the sensitive programming. Opening with Thomas Tallis' 16th century hymn from which the theme for the Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a the

The performance of the Symphony No 5 is well introduced by the Fantasia and allows the mystical serenity of this symphony to breathe in a new light. Then electing to close with the Serenade to Music is an homage to not only the output of Vaughan Williams but also to all music. The choral singing a splendid with some of the finest enunciation of the text ever recorded. And again, electing to open a `concert' with a choral work and ending the concert with another choral work frames the overall sampling of the beauties of the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams well.

For those who are choosing a singe CD of the music by Vaughan Williams to begin their collection this is one of the very finest. Grady Harp, May 13
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A truly sublime recording 29 Aug. 2010
By AF - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Both the quality of sound and performance on this recording are extraordinary. A true delight.
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