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Vaughan Williams: A London Symphony (original version) CD
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London Symphony Orchestra - Richard Hickox, direction
Penned between 1911 and 1913 and first heard in May 1914, Vaughan Williams's A London Symphony was dedicated to the memory of George Butterworth (whose ravishing 1913 idyll The Banks of Green Willow opens proceedings here). It's this original version that Richard Hickox and the LSO champion so eloquently on this sumptuous-sounding Chandos issue--and a very different beast it is from VW's final revision of 1933. For starters, there's more than a quarter-of-an-hour of extra material, much of it genuinely inspired and brimful of wondrous poetry. VW's scoring, too, was never more colourful and it's surely not too fanciful to detect many a foreshadowing of Holst's The Planets in particular. More significantly, the work takes on a darker, tragic dimension (nowhere more potently perhaps than in the slow movement) and there's an astonishing passage in the expanded epilogue that even anticipates the opening movement of the 1921 Pastoral Symphony. In hindsight, VW made all the right decisions (the scherzo's second half, haunting though it is, pales next to the shuddering intensity of the revised coda) but no one should miss the opportunity to experience his original thoughts in all their epic sweep and tingling vitality. Utterly compulsive listening then and a "must buy" if ever there was one. --Andrew AchenbachSee all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
The 1913 version lasts just over an hour but what an hour! Richard Hickox and the London Symphony Orchestra give a very broad reading with fairly slow tempi. The playing is wonderful with the quietest pianissimos. The first movement is unchanged but there are restored passages elsewhere. Those in the slow movement are of breath-taking beauty. This movement is now over sixteen minutes long and as played here is an overwhelming emotional experience. All the 'new' passages are memorable and effective at the very least and often strikingly original. Was Vaughan Williams right? Give me the rest of my life with both, then I will tell you.
The lovely rhapsody 'The Banks of Green Willow' by George Butterworth receives an affectionate performance too.
This is a very important and distinguished recording indeed. It is not only historical but gives the listener a unique musical experience which may not be repeatable once it is deleted although I do not think that will be for many years. It is also a great performance in its own right and one can almost feel the dedication that has gone into its production. The notes are excellent and are written by Stephen Connock, who is Chairman of The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society, and by Michael Kennedy who was a friend of RVW and has written an excellent book on his life and works. The recording is superb.
So if you're keen on RVW's revised London Symphony, or generally passionate about his symphonic works, there's a very good chance you will love this original version.
Great applause to Ursula Vaughan Williams [permission], Richard Hickox [conducting] and the London Symphony Orchestra [playing] for this recording.
Splendid that George Butterworth's idyll "The Banks of Green Willow" is on this, given his links with RVW and with this symphony in particular. Butterworth is a notably unsung hero.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Item arrived on time and was as specified. Excellent recording and performancePublished 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
I haven't stopped playing this since I bought it so well deserved of its five starsPublished 15 months ago by Reviewer
Interesting new light thrown on this splendid work. The lento takes some getting used to shorn of its glorious climax but the elongated finale has many new delights.Published 19 months ago by ian c
After hearing A London Symphony on iPlayer from the 2013 BBC Proms, I though how could I not have my own copy of this my favourite Vaughan Williams symphony. Read morePublished on 16 Aug. 2013 by NowHearThis
This disc, particularly well recorded in 2000, brings to our attention the original 1913 version of this much loved symphony. Read morePublished on 24 Jun. 2013 by I. Giles
This was the first full recording of A London Symphony (Symphony No. 2) by Ralph Vaughan Williams to be recorded in the original 1913 version. Read morePublished on 9 Aug. 2012 by Dr. H. A. Jones
A great CD to listen to. A brilliant production of this Symphony. I would highly recommend to serious music lovers.Published on 31 July 2012 by Scruffs