Vaughan Williams: Symphonies [Valery Polyansky, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Boris Abalian] [Melodiya: MELCD 1002170] Box set
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Symphonies n°1, n°2, n°3, n°5, n°6, n°8 & n°9 / The USSR State Chamber Choir - The State Symphony Orchestra of the USSR Ministry of Culture - The Choir of the Leningrad Music Society - The Choir of the Rimsky-Korsakov Music College - Valery Polyansky, Gennady Rozhdestvensky & Alexander Vereshchagin, direction
'it's wonderful to hear this rapt, quintessential RVW music played with such sincerity and sensitivity by the Russian orchestra' --John Quinn, MusicWeb, June 2014
'not all the convincing accounts of Vaughan Williams are necessarily by English or British musicians, and indeed the Russians here make their case engagingly. Definitely worth a listen for a different perspective on Vaughan Williams' symphonic output' --David Smith, 20th June 2014, Presto Classical
'Rozhdestvensky makes this music sound urban, high-rise, occasionally sinister, and loving in a very human way. There is nothing in the local catologue even remotely like it.' --Rob Cowan, Gramophone, August 2014
Gennady Rozhdestvensky's cycle of Vaughan Williams symphonies is an unexpected delight, once you've got past some decidedly iffy English pronunciation in A Sea Symphony. These live performances were recorded during concerts in Leningrad in the late 1980s, and they re a delight - ripe, full-bodied and played with dynamism and conviction. Occasionally raw brass sonorities add to the fun; never has Vaughan Williams sounded less parochial, with the later symphonies sounding especially bold and uncompromising. Interestingly translated sleeve notes too, and packaging which looks like a Soviet-era cigar --ArtsDesk, 29/12/14
Top Customer Reviews
However, I think it important that potential purchasers of this cycle are aware of exactly what is on offer. This is a collection of live, unedited performances from broadcast material which suffers from a number of drawbacks, not least the microphone placing which, at times, gives undue prominence to certain instruments whilst pushing others into the background. This leads to serious problems of balance which affects the listener's perception of the harmony and gives a false impression of what is in the score. Furthermore, the USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra, although excellent in some areas, does not sound like a world class body and I have a suspicion that the strings were not up to full strength, the violin tone being rather scrawny and undernourished at times (unusual in a Russian orchestra where the standard is normally so high). The performances themselves are marred in places by fluffed notes, poor intonation, misreads, misunderstandings of instructions and examples of untidy ensemble (some verging on the catastrophic).Read more ›
In this series, given in Moscow and St. Petersburg with various orchestras including the one featured on this set, he conducted not only the complete symphonies of RVW, Elgar and Walton, but other works by Bax, Britten, Moeran and Finzi.
The set under review emanates from the mid 1980s and is recorded from live concerts in ADD sound, not the DDD of the contemporary Mahler cycle under Svetlanov.
If the sound is a little less immediate than the Svetlanov, it is generally very pleasing with very good balance with great detail and a good deal of warmth. There is a real sense of a concert environment, unfortunately enhanced by the occasional cough and splutter from the audience, but overall this is a plus.
These symphonies are challenging technically-even the BRSO comes awry at times in their electrifying recording of the 6th under the late Sir Colin Davis, so it is no surprise that the USSR Symphony struggles with precision at various points-but overall the technical standard is breathtaking!
I've long been a foremost advocate of British Music being performed by non-British Conductors and Orchestras who devoid of any parochial baggage and performing tradition interpret the music as "pure" music, not "English" music, and this set more than other I can recall demonstrates the benefits as passage after passage unfold with new and challenging insights-not just as "Great English Music" but as "Great Music.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's fascinating to hear Vaughan Williams from a different perspective and full marks to everyone involved for undertaking this project, but I would only recommend this as a second... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Captain Pike
a pleasure to own this fascinating set... truly a great buy ... best vaughan williams release for a while....highly recommendedPublished 21 months ago by cubby43
Very good interpretations of works that could not have been inn their blood stream. But then Rozhdesvensky is a world class conductor. Read morePublished 23 months ago by wej foxall
Unexpected but totally enthralling from the great opening chorus to the enigmatic close of the last symphony. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Edward Clark
I'm giving this a provisional review. I have not heard it all yet, but I can tell you something Amazon doesn't. All the symphonies are conducted by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. Read morePublished on 30 Jun. 2014 by Graeme Withers
The conducting and playing here are so exciting - and I totally agree with the other four and five star reviews. Read morePublished on 28 Jun. 2014 by Rimsky
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