Good Performance; Poor Sound Quality,
This review is from: Vaughan Williams:Sym 1 Sea Sym (Audio CD)
Handley’s 1988 recording with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic of the ‘Sea Symphony’ on EMI is the slowest in my collection. It is not excessively slow, ‘merely’ six minutes slower than Boult, the fastest. In itself the seventy minutes are not the problem; rather, it is the sound quality.
There is a fine opening fanfare, but it’s not long before the dynamics of the recording cause problems, with choir and orchestra inexplicably losing too much volume of expression in the subsequent opening section. Matters get back on course with the entry of William Shimell, but the sound often lacks depth and I had to boost the volume in order to achieve any kind of consistency.
In the quieter moments of the symphony, there is great subtlety in Handley’s interpretation, and the close of the work is quite exquisitely moving. But I would not recommend this version for those new to the piece: the best remains, in my opinion, Previn’s with the London Symphony.