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Jeffrey Davis "jmd555555" (Sussex UK)
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Vaughan Williams: Piano Concerto (Piano Concerto/ The Wasps/ English Folk Song Suite - Sc)
Vaughan Williams: Piano Concerto (Piano Concerto/ The Wasps/ English Folk Song Suite - Sc)
Price: £5.99

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best recording of the Piano Concerto, 27 Oct. 2009
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This is a great performance and recording of Vaughan Williams's underrated craggily poetic Piano Concerto. The work comes across here with a greater sense of urgency than usual. The Piano Concerto emerges as a darker, more threatening work than in earlier recordings, with clear pre-echoes of Symphony No 4 (composed a few years later). The CD includes a fine performance of the lyrical English Folk Song Suite in its orchestral version (orch. Gordon Jacob) - the middle movement is especially beautiful (more dance-like than usual in its central section). Also featured are the Wasps Suite and the delightful, entirely characteristic, Running Set (best performance I've heard of this too - more urgency and less 'folk-songy' than before). All credit to Ashley Wass, the RLPO and James Judd. Although the Piano Concerto is not one of VW's best known works this CD would, in many ways, be a great introduction to his music as it demonstrates the many sides of Vaughan Williams's creative genius.


Symphonic Works (Pritchard, Boult, Gibson)
Symphonic Works (Pritchard, Boult, Gibson)
Offered by Musical Notes
Price: £20.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, neglected scores, 18 Oct. 2009
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All three symphonies are first rate. The Simpson is my favourite of his cycle and Boult's performance is excellent. The Fricker too is an exciting (especially the last few minutes) powerful and memorable score. But for me the revelation was the one movement Symphony by Robin Orr - a dark, craggy, poetic work which reminded me of Carlos Chavez (Symphonia de Antigona), Sibelius and Havergal Brian in places. I would rate these performances (together with Barbirolli's performance of Rubbra's 5th Symphony - also EMI) as essential aquisitions for admirers of tonal 20th century British symphonies. The recordings come from 1954 (Simpson), 1956 (Fricker) and 1965 (Orr) but, with the exception of the Simpson there are no alternative recordings and it is great to have these ones available.


Butterworth, A - Symphony No. 4; Viola Concerto
Butterworth, A - Symphony No. 4; Viola Concerto
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £12.47

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine British Symphony, 18 Oct. 2009
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Having not really liked Butterworth's First Symphony on Classico (I much preferred the more tuneful symphony by Ruth Gipps), I only bought this on the recommendation of a friend. It was a revelation! Butterworth's 4th symphony is a marvellous score. Notwithstanding the references to Bax, Sibelius (there is a direct quotation from 'The Tempest') and Nielsen, what stands out most is Butterworth's own musical personality. This is a craggy, martial but often poetic score that gives much pleasure - the ending is great and had me on the edge of my seat. At one point I was even reminded of Franz Waxman's score for 'Rebecca'! Furthermore, Barbirolli's premiere performance of Symphony No 1 made me appreciate it more than before. The Viola Concerto was less interesting, but this double CD features an interesting talk by the composer and some fine art-work as well as useful notes.

Strongly recommended for Symphony No 4.


Vaughan Williams: A London Symphony (original version)
Vaughan Williams: A London Symphony (original version)
Price: £9.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed!, 31 July 2009
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This restoration of Vaughan Williams's 1913 version of A London Symphony now stands as a moving tribute to Richard Hickox (perhaps his most important recording) and to Ursula Vaughan Williams, who sanctioned this release. I was very fortunate to attend the first performance of this score since 1918, when Richard Hickox conducted it at the Barbican Centre in London. Afterwards, as I queued up to get the conductor to sign my programme I said that I thought that Vaughan Williams was crazy to excise the beautiful passage just before the Epilogue in the last movement. Richard Hickox said that he completely agreed - I think that this passage is one of the most moving moments in all Vaughan Williams and I can understand why the composers friends Arnold Bax and Bernard Herrmann argued with him about the cuts. I have a previous CD with Sir Eugene Goossens conducting the Cincinatti SO during the war which maintains the great section towards the end - so this was obviously one of the final (and misguided in my view)revisions to take place. Whatever the Symphony gained in structural coherence, as a result of the cuts, it lost in poetic atmosphere. This is a much darker work than the 1936 version. The performance and recording are magnificent - a towering achievement for all concerned - thank you.


Reinhold Gliere: Symphony No. 3 'Ilya Muromets'
Reinhold Gliere: Symphony No. 3 'Ilya Muromets'
Price: £9.43

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy tribute to a fine conductor, 14 July 2009
On the day when the news broke of the sad death of Edward Downes and his wife at a clinic in Switzerland, I thought that I'd just say how fine a tribute to Sir Edward Downes this CD is. It is one of the greatest versions of Gliere's sprawling epic - there is more tension and urgency than in more drawn out versions. I was lucky to see this work performed live in London and Downes does the work full justice. Along with his recordings of the Korngold Symphony, George Lloyd's Fourth Symphony, Elgar's Second Symphony and Bax's Third Symphony (one of the great gaps in the CD catalogue), Gliere's Ilya Muromets will be a lasting tribute to a great conductor.


Sonata In E Minor, Symphony In G Minor (Dikes)
Sonata In E Minor, Symphony In G Minor (Dikes)
Offered by ThePolarBear
Price: £14.99

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine recording of a great symphony, 9 Mar. 2009
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I have a very soft spot for this recording as it was my introduction to one of my favourite symphonies, on LP in the 1970s. Dilkes's is a more intimate version than the magisterial Boult on Lyrita, but it works very well - especially in the beautifully moving section at the end of the second movement. In fact the whole performance is excellent and this would definitely be my No 1 budget choice. Anyone who loves this symphony as much as I do will also want Heward's magnificent war-time recording with the Halle - but if I could only choose one recording I would happily opt for the Neville Dilkes, which has a special quality to it. The attractive couplings make this an even more desirable CD.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 25, 2013 7:08 PM BST


Symphonies Nos. 23 And 24
Symphonies Nos. 23 And 24
Price: £6.09

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two great symphonies!, 26 Aug. 2008
This is the final release of the Olympia/Alto Miaskovsky (they spell it 'Myaskovsky')symphony cycle. Alto will, however, be releasing some other orchestral music by Miaskovsky in due course.

Both works were written during the Second World War. The tuneful 23rd Symphony (never released on a single CD before) was the product of Miaskovsky's evacuation to the Northern Caucasus and is based on Caucasian folk-songs although the first two movements (out of three) are still infused with Miaskovsky's characteristic melancholy. The opening of the 23rd Symphony is especially beautiful.

The darkly lyrical 24th Symphony (1943)is a deeply moving score, one of Miaskovsky's finest works dedicated to the memory of a musicologist friend but also probably reflecting the dark times in which it was composed.

Of course Warner have now issued this complete cycle in a boxed set, but that is without proper notes and I prefer the Alto transfers. I am biased as I wrote the notes for the 23rd Symphony in this release, but at bargain price, I have no hesitation in recommending this recording with the strongest enthusiasm. In many ways, this issue would be a great introduction to Miaskovsky's music as the 23rd Symphony is probably the most approachable and Symphony No 24 is one of the most deeply felt.


Bax: Festival Overture, Christmas Eve, Dance of the Wild Irravel etc
Bax: Festival Overture, Christmas Eve, Dance of the Wild Irravel etc
Price: £7.92

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Bax CD, 12 Aug. 2008
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Although this CD contains little-known works, it is my favourite Bax CD and would be a great introduction to this composer. The Festival Overture starts out conventionally but eventually features an entirely characteristically atmospheric Baxian tune. Nympholept is a fine tone poem (used memorably at the end of a TV documentary about the life of J R R Tolkien a few years ago)which should be better known. I feel that Bryden Thomson's recording is more atmospheric and preferable to either of the alternatives on Naxos or the later Chandos recording. Paen is great fun and Christmas Eve is an early masterpiece with its haunting vision of peace in the conflict-ridden land of Ireland. It is a quite beautiful work and this is a wonderful performance. The original (full price) issue of this CD also featured Tintagel (one of the best recordings) and I am sorry that it has been replaced here by some less important works. However, at its new bargain price this CD is irresistible and also represents a fine tribute to that great, underrated conductor; Bryden Thomson.


Wuthering Heights [DVD]
Wuthering Heights [DVD]
Dvd ~ Anna Calder-Marshall
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £4.90

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the atmosphere and great theme music., 6 July 2008
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This review is from: Wuthering Heights [DVD] (DVD)
I have just watched this on DVD having originally seen it at the cinema in Morecambe in 1974, whilst a student at Lancaster University. The atmosphere of this version and especially the appropriately haunting theme music, composed by Michel Legrand, has stayed with me ever since. I was, therefore, delighted when the main title music appeared on a CD 'The Essential Michel Legrand Film Music Collection' released on the Silva Screen label recently.

I largely agree with the review by Ellen and although, like almost any film based on a novel, the movie takes liberties with the plot, it maintains the essential atmosphere of Bronte's world, being beautifully filmed in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Above all I liked the performances by Anna Calder-Marshall and Timothy Dalton, as an appropriately brooding Heathcliffe. The final sections were especially haunting (no pun intended) and my wife, who was watching the film with me, was in tears at the end, which has to be an indication of the film's success!


Vaughan Williams: Symphonies Nos. 4-6 etc
Vaughan Williams: Symphonies Nos. 4-6 etc
Price: £17.79

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last! The return of Gibson's No 5 and Berglund's No 6., 5 Jun. 2008
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This is one of the very best reissues of this 50th anniversary year of Vaughan Williams's death in 1958. Above all it features three absolutely top-rate performances of what many regard as Vaughan Williams's greatest symphonies; Nos 4-6.

Gibson's eloquent version of the 5th symphony and Berglund's Sibelian recording of No 6 (VW's greatest symphony)have long been unavailable. They only ever appeared, briefly, on a very old HMV CD (HMV 132)in 1995. The Berglund recording of No 4 was available (with the Oboe Concerto, Tallis Fantasia and Wasps Overture) on a previous British Composers CD. What we have here is that CD together with the older HMV one.

Berglund brings an epic Sibelian grandeur to Symphony 4, played slower than usual (ie the second subject of the first movement), but it works magnificently. This performance relates No 4 much more closely to the sound world of No 6. The scherzo was especially effective, played with more gravity than in many alternative versions and briefly reminding me of Copland. The Symphony ends with a terrific declamatory "thud". This is one of the very best versions of Symphony No 4. Sir Alexander Gibson was a very underrated conductor. His recording of Symphony 5 is also first rate, with an especially deeply felt, radiant and spiritually uplifting slow movement. Gibson was a fine conductor of Sibelius's music and his recording of VW's 5th is the most sibelian I know. I was often reminded of the great Finn's 6th symphony when listening to this version. VW's 5th is dedicated to Sibelius ("without permission".)

I have waited for a long time for the return of Paavo Berglund's magnificent Bournemouth version of Vaughan Williams's 6th Symphony. There must be almost 20 versions of this enigmatic and tragic symphony but it seems very difficult to get right on disc. As far as I'm concerned there are only a handful of successful recordings, which include Boult's LPO recording from the early 1950s (Decca), made with VW in the studio (he makes a charming speech on the end of the recording), but that is only available now as part of a complete set of the symphonies. Other rare successes are conducted by Andrew Davis (the best in his series), Bryden Thomson, Bernard Haitink, Maurice Abravanel, Stokowski and Barbirolli, with a Bavarian orchestra (Orfeo). I was greatly disappointed by the Hickox version (voted No 1 choice on BBC "Building a Library"). Berglund also brings a Sibelian epic grandeur to his performance of No 6 and the sum of this performance is greater than the parts. He is one of the few conductors to get the epilogue right. Silvestri's Tallis Fantasia is another success, recorded atmospherically in Winchester Cathedral and the underrated Oboe concerto is played with great eloquence, even if I marginally prefer the Rothwell, Barbirolli version. I have never liked "The Wasps" very much, but it is given a fine performance and you get a garish photo of a lot of wasps on the front of the CD (I'd have preferred a landscape, but I'm an old fogey). However, there is a great (if familiar) photo of VW in the booklet and helpful notes from Michael Kennedy. Don't hesitate. This is a great CD.

(Added July 2012). Berglund's fine performance of Symphony No 4 in this set was voted No.1 choice in BBC Radio 3's 'Building a Library' Record Review this year. A fine tribute to a great conductor who sadly passed away recently.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 11, 2011 11:11 PM BST


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