Let’s cut right to the chase: Ormandy’s Tallis Fantasia is one of the reference versions of the work, while his Delius is every bit as fine as Beecham’s. It has all of the same virtues: flowing tempos (indeed, in Brigg Fair he’s a minute quicker), magnificent orchestral playing, and a willingness to let the music unfold freshly and naturally. The only reason these performances fail to receive the acclaim that they deserve is because the English press, historically, has been quick to dismiss foreigners who dare to compete with home-grown talent in “their” music, and no one else much cares.
Still, just listen to the massed Philadelphia strings in the first great tutti of the Tallis Fantasia (first sound sample). This is greatRead more playing, and beyond that Ormandy’s tempo, a bit quicker than usual, gives the music an uncommon degree of energy without compromising its nobility of spirit. The Fantasia on ‘Greensleeves’ is basically indestructible and certainly in no danger here, while Sony offers a lovely bonus in the form of The Lark Ascending, affectingly played by Cleveland Orchestra concertmaster Rafael Druian and the Cleveland Sinfonietta under Louis Lane.
As for the Delius works, has there ever been a more purely beautiful version of In a Summer Garden? Or a more rapturously played recording of Brigg Fair (second sound sample)? Ormandy’s reputation has never been lower than it is at present, but there was a reason he was Sony’s (Columbia’s) “house” conductor in the 50s and 60s. He and his orchestra maintained a level of versatility and polish that no one else could match, and his catholicity of taste was remarkable. This surprising disc makes a fine tribute to his art, and an eloquent reminder of his achievement in repertoire for which he was, to put it mildly, not a household name.
Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallisby Ralph Vaughan Williams Conductor:
Period: 20th Century Written: 1910/1919; England Date of Recording: 10/13/1963 Venue: Town Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvani
Fantasia on Greensleevesby Ralph Vaughan Williams Conductor:
Period: 20th Century Written: 1934; England Date of Recording: 04/14/1957 Venue: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Notes: Arranged: Ralph Greaves
The lark ascendingby Ralph Vaughan Williams Performer:
Rafael Druian (Violin)
Period: 20th Century Written: 1914/1920; England Date of Recording: 08/11/1963 Venue: Cleveland, Ohio
Brigg Fair - An English Rhapsodyby Frederick Delius Conductor:
Period: 20th Century Written: 1907; France Date of Recording: 04/08/1962 Venue: Town Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dance Rhapsody no 2by Frederick Delius Conductor:
Period: 20th Century Written: 1916; France Date of Recording: 11/02/1961 Venue: Town Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In a Summer Gardenby Frederick Delius Conductor:
Period: 20th Century Written: 1908; France Date of Recording: 11/20/1960 Venue: Broadwood Hotel, Philadelphia, PA
A Classic Collection SupremeJanuary 30, 2014By bess holloway (Boulder, CO)See All My Reviews"There's everything to love in this highly valuable collection. It is a gift to Americans. I have long thought it ironic that we are so close to Britain in language and history, yet so deficient where orchestral representation is concerned. Pure satisfaction is delivered by this musical offering."Report Abuse
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