5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An important addition to a burgeoning cycle?,
This review is from: Ralph Vaughan Williams: Symphony 5, 8 (Audio CD)
Like many I wondered if, following on from a fine "London" symphony (and a complete "Wasps" incidental music), this might be the next instalment in a complete symphonic cycle. If so, despite a bevy of distinguished competition, I believe it would be a welcome development.
The Halle have a distinguished record in Vaughn-Williams, not least in conjunction with Sir John Barbirolli. Indeed the 8th was dedicated to their distinguished conductor, and he and the orchestra performed the premiere....an excellent tradition which is being maintained here.
Although I enjoyed the 5th I think I relished the 8th even more. It may be because it was recorded in the BBC's Salford studios rather than Bridgewater Hall, and the drier, clearer acoustic suits the brighter outlook of the work. The finale "with all the spiels and `phons" V-W could muster is especially exuberant (and splendidly done here); incidentally, as Michael Kennedy points out in his valuable note, one of only two of his symphonies (the other being the 4th) which ends loudly.
Whither the fifth ? Is it a peaceful response to the ravages of war.....an interlude in the struggle...or a work which disguises some uncomfortable harmonic tensions and dissonances. The first movement always conjures up in my mind clouds crossing an azure sky, whilst the ravishing slow movement never fails to move. Elder understands this music thoroughly and my only slight gripe is, once again, the acoustic of the Bridgewater Hall, which seems "muddy", on my principal hi-fi at least, with a lack of clarity in the lower midrange/upper bass region.
This incidentally is no particular criticism of Halle Records - I find it on BBC broadcasts too. That said my "local" venues, such as the RFH and the Barbican, hardly win many acoustic prizes!
But I mustn't overstate this... I'm sure many will be perfectly satisfied, and please don't be put off... this is an important release and I hope to hear much more V-W from this source.