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Vaughan Williams: Symphonies No 4-6, Oboe Concerto, Etc / Gibson, Berglund


Release Date: 07/22/2008 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 16146   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  John Williams
Conductor:  Sir Alexander GibsonPaavo BerglundConstantin Silvestri
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic OrchestraBournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Versions of the symphonies that have something unique to tell us and enthral.

Wondered what was missing from Sargent's recently reissued Wasps overture? Listen to Silvestri and you will find out. There's a leaping dynamism about this playing and my is it fast! This is Silvestri injecting the Golovanov factor into Vaughan Williams. Even so he finds time for delicacy and the broad archetypical pastoral melody at 3:06 is as expansive as you could ask and, yes, as passionate. This is completely in keeping with his restlessly exuberant Elgar In the South - another treasure of the gramophone. Silvestri's Tallis Fantasia is spiritual, centre-anchored and sensational just like the sound-image. Be assured it does not feel
Read more rushed. It does sometimes feel romanticised. It sings and prays with such ardent conviction.

The Oboe Concerto is dedicated to Leon Goossens. It is a plaintively singing work and John Williams’ oboe is a modest and gracious presence, recorded to match. The Concerto's first two movements serenade the countryside. A chilly but not confounding wind blows through the finale like a Moeran scherzo. There is a defiant delight and a sweeping ecstasy about this writing as at 1.20 in III. The Bax-dedicated Fourth Symphony was recorded first by the composer with the BBC Symphony Orchestra who also premiered it with the composer (Dutton and Naxos now). Berglund is a fine advocate and this symphony suits his temperament well. It is a dark interpretation and one which takes the work close in the second movement to Sibelius's own Fourth, a work which Berglund would have been even more familiar with. Berglund is in best fettle with the scherzo and finale; the latter accelerant-laced and tramping forward at a faster than usual pace. Perhaps this could have done with a lick of the Silvestri paint for added vivid colouring but it impresses in its own dour right.

CD1 coincides with EMI CDM 5665392 which has been available as a single CD since 1997. The second CD in this set includes recordings new to the catalogue. The RPO prove themselves a virtuoso orchestra as they did for Temirkanov when they recorded the Tchaikovsky symphonies with him for BMG-RCA.

The RPO are centre-stage for a rarity - Gibson's reading of the Fifth Symphony here taken at a contemplative tack spanning nearly 40 minutes. This is as against Barbirolli's 38 minutes. Bound up in a complicated knot of links with Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress this is a work of seraphically peaceful benediction. That it should emerge in wartime perhaps emphasises the need from which the music arose - an emollient, a honeyed healing for pain and loss. The natural and detailed sound-image for Gibson's Fifth is entirely fitting and the chirping and sappy woodwind fit the bill to perfection. Gibson insists on ‘world enough and time’ and the steady pacing only seems to falter and lumber in the finale although it does work extremely well from 1:32 onwards.

Doubts there are none in connection with the whirlwind and desolation that Berglund and the BSO make of the Sixth Symphony. This recording has never previously made it to CD which is a great surprise given its excellence. It is searing, stirring and terrifying. The saxophone puts in a leering and noticeable appearance. The wind lines are superbly articulated by Berglund’s players. One is very conscious of his point-making but the results are gratifying. The BSO strings sing out in clean-limbed eloquence, for instance at 4:03 in the first movement.

The Fifth Symphony is from 1943. The Sixth was written between 1944 and 1947 being premiered in 1948 when the composer was 76. There were still three more symphonies to come. Berglund was good at the Fourth Symphony and is equally well attuned to the almost Shostakovich-like Sixth. Its desolation is not a million miles from the searing adagios of the Russian composer's wartime symphonies.

For all that we are spoilt with so many complete RVW symphony cycles each of the versions here have something to tell us and to enthral.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 4 in F minor by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sir Alexander Gibson,  Paavo Berglund
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931-1934; England 
2.
Symphony no 5 in D major by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sir Alexander Gibson,  Paavo Berglund
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938-1943; England 
3.
Symphony no 6 in E minor by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sir Alexander Gibson,  Paavo Berglund
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944-1947; England 
4.
Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sir Alexander Gibson,  Paavo Berglund,  Constantin Silvestri
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910/1919; England 
5.
The wasps: Overture by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sir Alexander Gibson,  Paavo Berglund,  Constantin Silvestri
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; England 
6.
Concerto for Oboe in A minor by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  John Williams (Oboe)
Conductor:  Sir Alexander Gibson,  Paavo Berglund
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; England 

Sound Samples

The Wasps - Aristophanic Suite: Overture
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Oboe Concerto in A minor: I. Rondo pastorale (Allegro moderato)
Oboe Concerto in A minor: II. Minuet and Musette (Allegro moderato)
Oboe Concerto in A minor: III. Finale: Scherzo (Presto - Lento - Presto)
Symphony No. 4 in F minor: I. Allegro
Symphony No. 4 in F minor: II. Andante moderato
Symphony No. 4 in F minor: III. Scherzo (Allegro molto)
Symphony No. 4 in F minor: IV. Finale (Allegro molto) con
Symphony No. 4 in F minor: epilogo fugato (Con anima)
Symphony No. 5 in D: I. Preludio (Moderato - Allegro - Tempo I)
Symphony No. 5 in D: II. Scherzo (Presto misterioso)
Symphony No. 5 in D: III. Romanza (Lento)
Symphony No. 5 in D: IV. Passacaglia (Moderato - Allegro - Tempo primo - Tempo del Preludio)
Symphony No. 6 in E minor: I. Allegro -
Symphony No. 6 in E minor: II. Moderato -
Symphony No. 6 in E minor: III. Scherzo (Allegro vivace) -
Symphony No. 6 in E minor: IV. Epilogue (Moderato)

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