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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cherishable collection, 4 May 2008
By 
Battle-famous (Warwickshire, England) - See all my reviews
This double CD album, a mixture of Vaughan Williams's most popular and rarely-heard music, is a cherishable collection indeed for the excellent performances contained in it, the constant delight the music affords, and the fact that both discs are full to the brim with an embarrassment of riches.

Richard Hickox is a most gifted interpreter of RVW, and these performances see him - and the Northern Sinfonia - at their peak. The soloists in the concerti are also heard at their best - Bradley Creswick in the Concerto Accademico, and Roger Winfield in the Oboe Concerto.

The first disc has a most attractive mixture, much of it comparative rarities, starting with the orchestral version of the Serenade to Music, and includes the overture to the opera 'The Poisoned Kiss' (which Hickox has made a complete recording of), and the rarely-heard but nevertheless enchanting music to a ballet based on the story of Old King Cole (a highlight of this collection for me). Hickox's versions of 'The Running Set' and the Sea Songs marches go at a fair lick, and are very compulsive.

The second disc is mainly made up of better-known pieces, such as the two concerti mentioned above, the 'Greensleeves' Fantasia, the rapturous 'Lark Ascending', and the sublime 'Five Variants of Dives And Lazarus', which must rival the more famous 'Tallis' Fantasia (which is not included on this collection) for the composer's mastery of string writing. There are, too, smaller gems, such as the Welsh Hymn Tune Preludes, which include the delectable 'Rhosymedre'.

If there is a drawback to the collection, it is only very slight, and it is the choice of soloist for the Five Mystical Songs. I think there are other, better interpretations, such as those by John Shirley-Quirk and Thomas Allen. I find either of the latter-named soloists to be more at one with the mystery of these songs than Stephen Roberts, but that is only personal.

I gave this set to a friend who wanted an introduction to RVW's works, and she fell in love with it, and has been spurred with enthusiasm for his music ever since. I only wish I could give it more than five stars!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fills in the gaps, 19 Oct 2000
By 
Dr. R. G. Bullock "Gavin Bullock" (Winchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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Vaughan Williams, probably England's greatest symphonist, also wrote some charming light music based on English folk song. You will find a lot of this on this double CD and at bargain price. Old King Cole is a rarity but great fun. The oboe concerto is given a fine performance by Roger Winfield. My own favourite is the violin concerto, played by Bradley Creswick. The central adagio is quite ravishing. VW's lyricism is overwhelming. Surely he has composed some of the most beautiful music ever written. Creswick also gives a good performance of 'The Lark Ascending', one of RVW's most popular works. For fifteen minutes, you are transported to an idyllic England that never really existed. What is really happening is that RVW is taking you into his own mind where all this wonderful creation occured. A bit of a rag bag but there are some gems here.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extrememly good start for your VW collection, 25 Feb 2003
By A Customer
What an extremely pleasant surprise to find a 'bought on spec.' CD as compelling as this. Two of the criteria in CD selection must surely be the choice of compilation and the quality of performance; here, both are most satisfying. The selection provides a rich and colourful experience of Vaughan Williams' genius. There is a range of moods and characters in well known, and less well heard pieces that will begin, or supplement any collection and suit any mood. The quality of the performances is such that it will establish a comfortable understanding of the music for the newcomer, but would not disappoint the seasoned enthusiast who has a 'definitive' performance already in mind. As a critical musician with many CDs in his collection that, having been bought unheard - will rarely be played, this is one purchase that will remain at the front of the 'regular' list.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, but a wonderful introduction for the newcomer, 24 Jun 2001
These disks provide a superb introduction to the music of RVW. Both are extremely well filled, and the playing of the NSO under Hickox is exemplary. There are rarities, such al "Old King Cole" and great favourites, such as "Fantasia on Greensleeves", but the newcomer and conoisseur alike will love rich pieces such as the "Fantasia on Welsh Hymn Tunes" and incidental works for films.
I can't recommend this highly enough.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Music, Great Value, 8 Jan 2006
By A Customer
A fabulous collection of Vaughan-Williams pieces including some rarities. The Greensleeves fantasia and King Cole a great fun. But for me the highlight comes in the beautiful Dives and Lazarus variations which alone are worth the askng price. Great value double disk set.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Top Vaughan Williams, 14 Jan 2013
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More and more I am coming round to the modern composers. Vaughan Williams is fasinating. Sang the Mystical Songs with local Choral Society. Loved it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Vaughan-Williams / Hickox - Faultless !, 23 Sep 2010
By 
Michael Davies (Worcestershire UK) - See all my reviews
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I was pleased to find some favourites of mine long cherished on LP Records - chiefly 'Old King Cole' (I believe rather looked down on as 'light' music) which in this version contains a pleasing violin solo by Bradley Creswick.

There is of course much else which no fan of VW would want to be without. Two CD's in the set - my feeling was that I just could not go wrong ! Fine playing & good recording - what else do you want ?
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Introduction., 4 July 2010
By 
As the other reviews indicate, a good introduction to RVW, I prefer the second CD by a country mile. Recommended.
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Hickox conducts Vaughan Williams
Hickox conducts Vaughan Williams by Richard Hickox/Northern Sinfonia Of England
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