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on 2 April 2013
Andrew Davis is inspired in the difficult 6th symphony and up there with Boult's LPO recording from way back. In some ways he allows the brutality of Vaughan Wiliiams' vision to hit us more 'snakily' than even Boult.
Sir Adrian's later set for EMI obviously had better sound but the 6th was less savage than for Decca.
So why only 2 stars? Simple, the recording producer C Palmer and 'engineer' T Faulkner evidently thought that they knew better than both the composer and superb conductor and the dynamics sound nothing like a real orchestral concert. I could analyse and prove it but cannot be bothered. Suffice to say that making the Epilogue so dim and distant they lose some of the best ensemble playing for years ('cello against woodwind) and totally wreck a masterly performance.
Why are digital knob twiddlers not issued with mittens so they can leave well alone?

If ever there was a need to remaster what the interferers might have left this is it.
Great playing, great conducting but the so-called 'engineers' might as well have slashed a Turner.
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on 26 June 2017
The first four tracks are a waste of time because the rendition is inaudible or extremely loud without me touching the volume butto. The worst purchase I've made for a CD. The last two tracks are better; the Fantasy and Lark Ascending are quite good but I do not recommend this CD at all.
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on 15 May 2017
Great CD, love it
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on 26 June 2009
I bought 2 copies of this Vaughan williams CD, one to illustrate a presentation of short pieces of writing on the theme of town and country, and the second as a prize for the member of the audience who could guess the name of the extract used (Lark Ascending). It stuck me as quintessentially representative of the atmosphere of the English countryside of my youth and that of my parents and grandparents. In those days, incidentally, we pronounced His name Ralph, not 'Rafe'.
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on 2 January 2017
Sorry I bought this I only really wanted the one track, The Lark ascending. Do not return anything to Amazon unless faulty, it will cost you an arm and a leg !!!!!!!!!
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on 29 August 2015
Teldec gave Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra beautiful sound here (in 1990) -- it's particularly striking how well it catches the dynamic variety in the creepy, quiet music that makes up the final movement. That's music that sounds like the wind passing over the waste land of post-World War 2 Europe, both desolate and beautiful. Santa Fe Listener, on American amazon.com, commented on how difficult it was to get a volume setting that did justice to both the loud stuff and the very quiet stuff. On my Bose headphones, I was able to hear it all, with nice presence. The earlier movements are brutal, at times recalling Mahler or reminding one of Shostakovich, and Andrew Davis drives it all home effectively. Nothing could be further from the Vaughan Williams of English folksong-inspired pastoral lyricism, and I would guess that there isn't likely with music like this to be much room for differences that matter in interpretive nuance. Previn's and Haitink's accounts are both very good too (I haven't heard Boult's or Slatkin's). There is a lovely Holstian moment or two of repose late in the first movement, but it seems to be there only to NOT be taken up or sustained in what follows in this bleak and compelling work.

The Tallis Fantasia makes for one nice filler -- it's a piece that I like but feel that if I could hear it live in an appropriate acoustic I would like it better. And "The Lark Ascending" rounds out the disc. It's hard to believe that Tasmin Little has been before the public for 25 years now. She has just recorded "The Lark" again for Chandos (with the Moeran concerto), and very nice it is. This early performance seems equally fine to me, though it's not a piece I spend a lot of time thinking about. The sound in the "Lark" and the Fantasia" is excellent too. Fine disc.
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on 12 October 2016
I adore this. I am a scottish man, living in scotland who vote for independence ( I don't wish to be ruled by a tory government). I like british, english, irish and welsh people and I guess many people may say you can't really get much more synonomous with rural england than when listening to this...it is beautiful affecting music.
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on 24 September 2004
I dont know how many performances of the Tallis Fantasia and the Lark Ascending are around at the moment, but these two are among the very best. The Tallis is possibly the finest since Barbirolli (but maybe not quite so overwhelming) and Tasmin Little's Lark probably the loveliest since Hugh Bean's. So even if you have other versions, don't hesitate. Both are warmly recorded.
The sixth is also a very fine performance. Its a dark, angry work for three of its four movements (with only the one "big tune") but a more mystical, visionary, questioning epilogue. Davis, the BBC SO and the Teldec engineers rightly give the symphony a taut and urgent performance and recording, which works particularly well in the epilogue though you may find it too analytical in the earlier movements.
All three works are distinctively performed and recorded and their juxtaposition makes this a disc which is even more than the sum of its very good parts.
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on 26 March 2001
Vaughan Williams' Sixth Symphony may or may not have been intended as a 'War Symphony', but it certainly suggests a reaction to the materialistic world and mankind's unbounded capacity for destruction. The mood is relentlessly dark, progressing via savagery and grotesqueness to the utter devastation of the slow final movement, vividly recalling images of Hiroshima after the bomb. Even the 'big tune' statement at the end of the first movement sounds heroic rather than optimistic. Among the peaks of the symphonic repertoire, only the Sibelius Fourth is so consistently bleak. Sir Andrew Davis and the BBC SO do not spare our sensibilities; they mercilessly deliver the work's agenda. The recording is exceptionally vivid and detailed - the bass drum thwacks at several points have a bodily impact. The other two works on the disc could not offer greater contrast and they sound ravishingly beautiful here. A compelling issue.
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on 30 January 2010
The choice of repertoire is excellent. Three of Vaughan Williams's masterpieces. There's the very big, very dark and loud 6th symphony. The lush and tuneful Thomas Tallis, and the pretty Lark Ascending. Just the right amount of light and shade.
The orchestra (well they are the house band for the Proms!), the conductor and the soloist are world class, and faultless.
Although the price tells you its not a recent recording (1990) you'd never know it(another fine pressing from Germany!).
Highly recommended.
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