There is a lovely lush hush at the opening to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s interpretation of VW’s second symphony. The first and third movements are very good, but there is an issue with the sound quality. Recorded in 1992, overall it is fine – but it lacks breadth: the reproduction of the sound is that of the orchestra performing there in Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall rather than here in my living room. The result is that I do not feel immersed in the beautiful moving climax of the lento, for example, or in the hopelessness of the clash at the height of the finale that ushers in the second Westminster chimes.
Vernon Handley’s control of the first movement of VW’s eighth symphony testifies to a good understanding of its dynamics. Yet the third movement cavatina disappoints, with Handley’s conducting seemingly failing to sound purposeful: the orchestra even sounds bored! But everything is saved in the raucous yet disciplined toccata finale. Again there are issues with sound quality: it's mostly fine, but it is only just about bearable in the tuttis. One must remember that the Eminence label's recordings were at the cheaper end of the EMI price band.