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Vaughan Williams: Sinfonia Antartica; Toward the Unknown Region CD

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Bryden Thomson
  • Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Audio CD (1 Oct. 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B000000AJT
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 115,987 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Very interesting and successful reading of the mighty Seventh Symphony. Some listeners would be surprised to hear the organ perfectly balanced with the orchestra swirls in Landscape movement (not overpowering the orchestra completely like in some other recordings). Easily the best soprano/choir on record due to their placement (sometimes they pushed forward too much). There was no narrator at the beginning of each movement, which did not bother me at all. The horrors of the symphony were perfectly counter-weighted by the last track (Toward the unknown region), an enjoyable choral piece, ending in an epic, uplifting outburst.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought this for my mum who visited Antarctica when approaching 70 a couple of years ago. She absolutely loves it - so I'm also a very happy bunny.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8da292dc) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d8b9d20) out of 5 stars Incredible acoustics, sound 23 Nov. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I own just about every commercial version of Sinfonia Antartica that has been in print in the last 10 years or so, and this is one of my favorites. If you think that the Slatkin sounded a bit dry for the imagery of the Landscape movement, then this CD is for you. I think the Chandos engineers outdid themselves on this one, capturing the natural reverb of the building while not losing any clarity.
However, there is one interesting pecularity to me about this recording: the big organ solo at the end of the Landscape movement is not big at all. In fact, it is rather quiet, and seems like it might have been subdued during mixing. At first, I thought this to be a huge drawback to an otherwise fantastic recording. But, after comparing this with my other recordings, I valued the chance to actually hear the orchestra creating a swirling, rising tide of sound from beneath organ. This especially contrasts the Haitink, where the organ solo is completely at the other end of the dynamic spectrum, obliterating the orchestral swells with pure sonic weight. I like both, so I end up with both at hand when I get the urge to listen to this piece.
As an added bonus, the CD comes with "Towards the Unknown Region," which, if you haven't heard it, is also excellent, and a nice contrast to the winter chill of Sinfonia Antartica.
Some others wrote regarding the Vaughan Williams Chandos CD series that they are having problems with playback. Alas, my copy never quite makes it through "Towards the Unknown Region" anymore. However, it did play well at one time, so I think it was damaged by me somehow (although I don't remember when!).
If you love this piece, do yourself a favor and buy this recording. This work is one in which the different interpretations vary quite wildly, so you end up finding something you like in each one. There's a lot to like in this one.
Also, check out the "Koss Classics" recording--the cymbal crash at the end of the introduction of the first movement is worth it alone! Some of my friends like the Slatkin because it includes a gigantic bass drum roll during the buildup before the organ solo in the Landscape movement. Not one of my favorites, but that little "addition" in that recording is of some interest.
Hope I've been of some help...
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d8bf1a4) out of 5 stars ...Excellent performance 16 Aug. 2002
By David - Published on
Format: Audio CD
"Sinfonia Antartica" and "Towards The Unknown Region" so deservely belong on the same c.d and I don't know of any other recording that pairs the two together.
Sinfonia Antartica takes it's origin from the film Scott Of The Antaractic, the 7th of 11 film scores Vaughan Williams would write. He would rework it into a symphony form that would deal with the same cold harsh elements of nature except it won't dedicate all it's focus on Scott but from other sources as well.
The first movement depicts the frozen Antartica with the haunting voice of Catherine Bott and female choir suggesting terror and fascination of the South Pole. The second movement (Scherzo) is on a lighter and playful side that evokes a mental image of whales and penguins. The heart of the symphony is the 3rd movement (Landscape), fragmented themes that interweave with disquietly orchestral colouring that reaches a climax with the sudden burst of sound from a organ. The 4th movement (Intermezzo) although a introduction of a oboe might suggest a warmer side, the movement ends in considerable tragedy. The 5th movement starts off optimistically making references to Captain Scott and crew braving the elements but the return of Catherine Bott and choir implements their fate.
"Towards The Unknown Region" taking it's text from a Walt Whitman poem, is essentially a song for chorus and orchestra and one of Vaughan Williams earliest works to have a huge impact on the public.
I can't say that all 9 Vaughan William Symphonys that Bryden Thompson conducts with the London Symphony Orchestra on the Chandos label are top notch, some shine more than others and "Sinfonia Antartica" to me sticks out above other recorded works of the same Symphony and it does help to have a great companion piece along side it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d8bf1c8) out of 5 stars Splended Recording 5 Feb. 2010
By Neaklaus - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is my second Bryden Thomson, LSO recording. The first is a selection of Vaughan Williams orchestral works

that include the Norfolk Rhapsody no. 1. As for this recording it is just wonderful. The performances of both the

Symphony no. 7 " Sinfonia Antartica" and the choral work "Towaqrd the Unknown Region" are both excellent.

This is my second recording of the symphony, the first is the one by Andre Previn on RCA. On the Previn you have

the addition of a narrator performing the superscriprions that RVW put on the symphony. All of which are very well

read by Sir Ralph Richardson. Here there is no narrartion, which is just as well so you get to here the symphony

without any "breaks". "Toward the Unknown Region" is a new work to me, and is an excellent foil to the symphony.

I plan to get the rest of Bryden Thomsons recordings of the Symphonies of RVW, as his seem to be as good as any

other ones that are currently available.
HASH(0x8d8bf4ec) out of 5 stars My favorite version of Sinfonia Antartica! 19 Feb. 2015
By RPM - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I own both the Decca version of Sinfonia Antartica, conducted by Adrian Boult, and the Chandos version with Bryden Thomson. The Chandos version is superior in terms of sound quality. I have yet to hear a Chandos recording that was less than stellar. Highly recommended!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d8bf498) out of 5 stars The glory of this 'Sinfonia antartica' is its sweeping cinematic sound 14 Jan. 2013
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Vaughan Williams enjoys a vast discography when you consider that his symphonies are rarely played outside England. Most of us who don't live in the UK learned to love his instantly recognizable style and humane outlook form discs. We have a wealth of choices for each symphony except the last two. In the case of "Sinfonia Antartica" (the Antarctic loses its first "c" in Italian) there's every excuse to deliver a widescreen cinematic sound stage as befits the score's origins. Few of us have seen "Scott of the Antarctic," but RVW's depiction of icy desolation is so chilling that the visuals aren't needed.

For me, the score seems more like a well-organized suite than a symphony, and the recurrence of a few mottoes provides linkage more than any kind of convincing development. The strongest movement is the first, where these mottoes are stated heroically with tones of foreboding and an eerie evocation of the landscape. Bryden Thomson could hardly be bettered here. chandos's huge sound stage and vivid colors are just right for this panoramic music. But he's not as rhythmic or stark as either Boult or Handley. If you want stronger musical values, those two versions need investigation.

It's no small thing to delete the snippets of narration taken frorm Scott's diary, either. As read by Sir Ralph Richardson on Previn's recording (RCA), these brief extracts add enormously to one's sense of peril, courage, and tragedy. RVW wasn't a tragic composer, so it's befitting to add Toward the Unknown Region, his choral work based on verse from his favorite poet, Walt Whitman (the effect is like playing the Bruckner "Te Deum" after the unfinished Ninth Sym.,as is sometimes done). We get balm for the soul and a suggestion of the mysterious unexplored doman that awaited Scott after death.

The premiere of "Toward...Region" at the Leeds choral festival in 1907 was an immediate success and helped secure RVW's reputation. the fact that oratorio-like compositions were ubiquitous in England from Handel to the present day hasn't made them my cup of tea. On this recording the excellent London Sym. Chorus is captured well as a wash of sound but without any enunciation - you'll need to know the poetry or follow it. I enjoyed the uplifting mood, at least.
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