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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 14 January 2012
If I had to save one disc from the proverbial fire, it would probably be this one. No only does it contain one of the finest recordings of my favourite piece of music ever composed, the Tallis Fantasia, but also a benchmark performance of The Lark Ascending, with the wonderful Iona Brown`s virtuosic violin sweeping and swooping us along on skittish wings of languid melody.
Between these two timeless works is the brief, delectable Fantasia On Greensleeves, which features the silvery, mellifluous flute playing of William Bennett.
But the surprise - the hidden gem - for many listeners may well be the 13-minute Five Variants Of `Dives And Lazarus`, as lovely as the Lark or the Fantasia, and as melancholy as they are (for the most part) uplifting. When VW discovered the tune "in a copy of English Country Songs" as the excellent sleevenotes tell us, the composer "had that sense of recognition - here`s something which I have known all my life, only I didn`t know it."
Well, quite. That is exactly how I felt when I first heard these pieces. In fact I shall never forget how I was introduced to the Tallis Fantasia. I was sharing a flat in Finchley forty years ago with several others. One day, two of my fellow male tenants stuck a pair of headphones over my ears and said, with great eagerness, "Listen to this!" I did, was in a state of bliss for all of its fifteen minutes, and knew I would love the work all my life. So much so that I wish to have it played at my funeral...
VW has, over the last century or so, had some daft things said about his music. No, it isn`t "cowpat music" nor is it in some way idealistically "English", though of course much of it - especially the pieces here - is redolent of the English countryside, with that hard-to-pin-down strain of melancholy hidden deep in the English character, and which is one of its most attractive traits. (I am able to be half-objective, being half-Welsh - a melancholy race if ever there was one!)
I do hope lovers of this music will go on to explore all VW`s other works, his nine
astonishing symphonies - truly the journey of a life - as well as his choral and chamber works. But he really did create, with these pieces, something unique to his peculiar genius. Internationally, he and Elgar must surely be the most undervalued of composers. A great pity. I imagine anyone with a heart and spirit would give a lot to have composed the Fantasia or the Lark...
Great English music?
Great music.
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on 10 June 2017
Musically superb but the recording is rather dull compared to modern technology. Bear in mind that this was recorded in 1972 and that recording technology has progressed significantly since then. Musically, no criticism from me as Marriner and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields are outstanding. Played on a decent stereo or through quality headphones shows up the lack of bass and rather muddy treble. The Thomas Tallis fantasia is particularly good.
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on 10 August 2017
An excellent rendition of Vaughan Williams' better known compositions, indicative of English rural scenes and calm sunny days.
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on 26 April 2017
Hazy summer days, freshly mown grass, a glass of Pimms and Vaughan Williams. Heaven.
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on 2 April 2017
Wonderful music, well recorded. What more to say?
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on 11 February 2017
Lovely sounds old England a culture slowly fading
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on 22 May 2017
Very moving music.
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on 12 June 2016
Product as advertised Excellent service
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on 23 May 2017
Excellent recording shame about the very slow delivery.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 20 May 2009
As a newcomer to classical music, The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams was one of the first pieces that I truly fell in love with. I looked around on Amazon, read some of the more learned reviews, and finally settled on this recording. If you're a newbie like me and are looking for a recording of the The Lark Ascending, THIS is the recording that you're probably familiar with from Classic FM. I'm listening to it right now, and I truly believe it is one of the most spellbinding and beautiful pieces of music ever written. Of course here you get the full 16 minutes and not just the 4 minute clip that you tend to hear on the radio or on compilation CDs.

What I wasn't prepared for was the Talis Fantasia. A stunning piece of music that sends shivers through your entire body. You'll recognise it, even if you don't think you know it. It was featured in the 2003 film Master and Commander but has also heavily influenced film composers like James Horner whose themes for Troy and Field of Dreams both draw inspiration from it.
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