10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
You think you don't like Vaughan Williams? Think again!,
This review is from: Ralph Vaughan Williams: Symphony 5, 8 (Audio CD)
It's interesting the way orchestras have really good phases and then drop out of fashion for while, then back they come. The same happens with areas of a town - they're 'in' then they're 'out' then they come back into vogue.
Enjoying a totally wonderful come-back to the top of the tree is the Hallé Orchestra. With their present Music Director, Sir Mark Elder, they're bringing out a number of 'Live' recordings, as is becoming increasingly fashionable. On this new CD, of two symphonies by Ralph Vaughan Williams, the first uses largely 'live' material, only topped up with one rehearsal. This technique pays off handsomely. The orchestra plays RVW's 5th symphony with the same joy as one expects to hear in the concert hall, without the safety net of the recording studio to fall back on. The symphony appears so serene and gentle, despite its being composed during the years leading up to the second world war and being premièred in 1943. VW dedicated the work to Sibelius, whom he greatly admired, though never copied.
Forgive me if I say that the music of Vaughan Williams is very much a Marmite experience. I love it. Many just don't "get" it. I feel very sorry for them!
The other symphony on this CD is Number 8. This terribly difficult work (to play) is a studio recording, but still has the exuberance of a 'live' performance, which is much to the credit of both conductor and orchestra. VW dedicated the work to Sir John Barbirolli, with whom the Hallé was so closely involved for so many years and it was he who conducted its première in Manchester in May 1956. It's amazing to remember that Vaughan Williams was in his 80s when he wrote it.
Michael Kennedy writes the CD notes, which explain but don't preach. He ends by reminding us that the 8th and the 4th symphonies are the only two which end loudly!