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4.7 out of 5 stars
Vaughan Williams: Orchestral Works
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155 of 156 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2006
This is the RVW disc which started my collection of his music over ten years ago. It opens with a beautifully performed 'Serenade to Music', the only vocal track on the album. If you are normally allergic to 'classical' singing and prefer instrumental pieces, this may just convert you, because it has so many bewitching moments - and besides, the vocals on this recording are not quite as forward as other versions.
Again, if your opinion of British music is that it consists of 'marches and ceremonials', the English Folk Song Suite may overturn your thoughts on that genre. It certainly does include a march, but it's irresistable, and the Intermezzo is a gem.
The Norfolk Rhapsody and Fen Country pieces are atmospheric tone-poems from RVW's earliest years of success, impressionistic, misty creations with a hint of folk tune.
The one piece you should not hesitate to buy this disc for, though, is The Lark Ascending (with Hugh Bean on violin). There are plenty of recordings of this out there of course, but none has ever displaced this one. The recording of violin and orchestra is perfectly balanced, and the actual performances masterly. This is a popular piece, but it needs a sure touch, anything less and the poetry vanishes. Crucial (to my ears) is the sustained chord held by the orchestra right at the start - it should make you see things! If that's done right, as it is here, the piece performs its magic for the listener effortlessly from that point on.
This Lark recording often turns up elsewhere, but this is the best disc to have. If it could convert a cautious new 'classical' listener like me into a RVW obsessive within its duration, then it can't come with any stronger recommendation.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
To put together a combination of Vaughan Williams and Sir Adrian Boult can only lead to the most irresistible disc I have ever listened to, which ever orchestra is playing here it is given sure footed guidance by a conductor with English music in his veins. The programme begins with the vocal version of Serenade to Music, which is really serene and beats the instrumental version played by Vernon Handley, by a mile or more, by showing how much the voices add to this piece. There is plenty of atmosphere in both the Norfolk Rhapsody and In the Fen Country, a robustness added to the English Folk Song Suite which makes you remember the tunes long after they have finished. Even the most well known piece Greensleeves is heard afresh in this slightly romantic performance here and finally to finish with a gorgeous version of the Lark Ascending, is like having icing on the cake, a fabulous way to end this programme with one of the best performances of this piece on CD, the violinist Hugh Bean is to be applauded for his most sympathetic performance. The remastering process used has really made all this music so more clearer and vivid to listen, just sample Greensleeves to see what I mean. All in all a great programme of Vaughan Williams's shorter orchestral pieces that shows off his skill as a great composer, who had a strong affinity with East Anglia, it's folk songs and it's landscapes. If you any feeling for English composers then this is a definite must have for your library, I for one would consider it first choice as a Desert Island Disc, as I don't think I could ever tire of listening to any of the works presented here.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 November 2008
Not many conductors match Adrian Boult's masterly performances of V-Williams music, for its rich tonal colours, noble poise and eloquence. Definitely a must-buy CD for anyone who loves VW's music!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2010
This CD features great performances of Serenade to Music, Norfolk Rhapsody, In the Fen Country, and perhaps best of all, The Lark Ascending with Hugh Bean as solo violinist.

The engineers have done a great job at transferring the audio to CD; the sound is crystal clear all the way through, and you'll never notice that the recordings were made in the sixties.

For an introduction to some of the works of Vaughan Williams, this is a great (and cheap) CD to get!
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2007
I JUST WANT TO AGREE WITH EVERY WORD THAT MR JORDAN HAD SAID ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR RECORDING, NOT JUST OF 'THE LARK', BUT OF SERENADE TO MUSIC ALSO. IN FACT I JUST LOVE EVERYTHING ON THIS ALBUM! I BOUGHT MY VINYL COPY IN THE EARLY 70'S AND IT IS NOW SO WORN OUT THAT I DECIDED TO LOOK TO SEE IF A CD WAS AVAILABLE. WHAT JOY! NOT ONLY HAVE I BEEN ABLE TO FIND A CD OF MY TREASURED RECORDING, BUT WITH BONUS TRACKS, AND AT AN INCREDIBLY LOW PRICE. FOR ME THIS IS THE PURCHASE OF THE MONTH.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 September 2013
...so why did I only give it four stars? Well, I bought the download for the "English Folk Song Suite," and I have to say that the performances on this recording are definitive, as far as I'm concerned- Adrian Boult was the master when it came to conducting RVW (amongst others.)

Of the other pieces, although I've been a fan of RVW since schooldays, I've never been keen on the "Serenade to Music," and the performance here doesn't change my opinion of it, sad to say. It's also a little over-sentimental, in my opinion, with too heavy a vibrato and an over-use of portamento on the solo violin, but that's just my taste.

Although the recordings were made back in the 1950's, they sound clear and fresh. Although they were mono, the stereo image seems to have been artificially widened at some point, to give an illusion of depth and stereo spread. This could have adversely affected the sound, but it doesn't.

In summary, apart from my reservations on "Serenade," I don't think you'll find a better representation of these pieces anywhere.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2011
Sir Adrian Boult remains the foremost interpreter of the works of Ralph Vaughan Williams (honourable mentions for Sir TB, Sir JB, and VH)

This is a wonderful cocktail of varied and highly listenable music, and I commend it to anyone wanting the definitive article, if indeed there is such a thing.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2009
This CD got me acquainted with some of the lesser known works of VW, apart from the well-known Lark Ascending (with Hugh Bean on violin, e.g. the classic recording) and a Serenade to Music. I especially liked The Norfolk Rhapsody and In the Fen Country. Polished up in a very positive sense, considering the fact that all the recordings were made in the sixties. Made me want to listen to some more VW....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 2011
Lovely pieces of work !... the English Folk Song suite is so evocative of times gone long by it conjurs up images of country fairs from Thoma Hardy novels. Excellent.. I had it as a tape long ago and am glad I renewed my acquaintance with the magic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 March 2014
I used to have this recording on mini-disc. I bought a different version on CD because this was not available at the time. The music was the same but just didn't have the same depth and warmth that this recording has. So pleased to have it again.
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