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British Composers - Vaughan Williams, Finzi, Holst


Release Date: 05/03/2011 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 95433   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ralph Vaughan WilliamsGerald FinziArnold BaxGustav Holst
Performer:  David Van AschNigel PerrinRobin DovetonJohn Eaton,   ... 
Conductor:  Nicholas CleoburySir David WillcocksSir Adrian BoultChristopher Finzi,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's SingersCambridge King's College ChoirLondon Philharmonic Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"I was raised on the Westbrook version of An Oxford Elegy. All lovers of the English language should flock to that work and that recording though the Nimbus version from Jack May is pretty good too. Such a potent combination - Westbrook's voice and the nostalgic sweetness of Vaughan Williams’ music. The redolent pleasure of this overpowering poetic impression is in no way blunted by a benevolently low-key bed of analogue hiss. The recording is very generously tracked so favourite extracts can easily be tracked down. The Oxford Elegy is complemented by the Whitsunday Hymn sung by the clean-voiced tenor Robin Doveton, Flos Campi and Sancta Civitas. As for Flos Campi, I love the Jacques Read more reading but Frederick Riddle’s version now on Chandos is also good and his tone production is less tremulous than that of Cecil Aronowitz. It used to be on an RCA LP with the suite for viola and orchestra. Sancta Civitas is perfectly put across by golden age regulars: Ian Partridge and John Shirley-Quirk. The second disc has the classic version by John Shirley-Quirk of Five Mystical Songs. The bustling and ascending euphoria of Easter and Antiphon has not been equalled elsewhere and the O Clap Your Hands has that new-risen sunshine confidence carried by the voices and the brass. We then turn to RVW’s friend,. Holst and his Choral Fantasia. This is a stern apocalyptic work is lofted higher into the mysteries by the laser-strong voice of Janet Baker. It belongs in the same company as The Hymn of Jesus. Less perfervid and more gently devotional is Holst’s Psalm 86 as sung by Ian Partridge. Holst then bows out to allow for Finzi’s Dies Natalis in the classic version sung by Wilfred Brown. It was at one time the only catalogue representation of this composer but the Finzi revival soon filled in the picture around this work of the ecstatically blessed mystery of childhood. Its seraphic vocal and instrumental lines link with another childhood centred work – Intimations of Immortality. There’s more Finzi to come on both CDs 3 and 4. However before then we should note the plainchant-accented RVW Mass in G minor in its original and still pristine 1968 recording. The Finzi choir and organ pieces are Lo, the Full, final Sacrifice and the Magnificat. Also there is God is Gone Up which I recall recording off the radio in the 1970s and playing to death simply because I was so desperate to hear and rehear anything by Finzi. These Finzi pieces are done with murmurous devotional fervour. The Bax pieces are well worth having though I do think that the great Mater Ora Filium needs female voices to make its most tellingly crowned effect around the ululating sleet of ‘alleluias’. Back to Finzi for disc 4. I was smitten with his Intimations some years before the Lyrita/Partridge/Handley LP (SRCS75) came out in 1974. Once again I had recorded on a Philips reel-to-reel machine, a broadcast, this time by Philip Langridge (then in steady golden voice) with the BBC Singers, BBC Concert Orchestra and Ashley Lawrence. Eventually I managed to transfer this, blips and all, to a cassette and again played it to a frazzle. When the Lyrita came out I borrowed it from the library – hey I was an impecunious student in Bristol at the time, folks. Partridge was even better and that analogue recording remains the recording of choice with this Hickox one not far behind. Strangely enough the downside for me is the state of Langridge’s voice during these recording sessions. He sounds strained and his vibrato intrudes occasioning some damage. Listen to the tremble on the word ‘Glories’ in track 6 and the word ‘Oh!’ in tr. 8. I am very sensitive to these things. Others will have less of a problem, I am sure. The rumba-calypso in Then sing ye birds is a delightful barrage of collective vocal tone, percussion and brassy splendour. The Grand Fantasia and Toccata for piano and orchestra was superbly despatched by Katin on Lyrita and by Leon McCawley at last year’s Proms (2010). It is great fun in its Allegro Vigoroso standing at the confluence of Nights in the Gardens of Spain, Walton’s Sinfonia Concertante and Moeran’s Rhapsody No. 3. Philip Fowke gives it a blazingly imperious spin. The last disc takes us back to Holst with his signature work The Planets in Boult’s penultimate 1966 version rubbing shoulders with Previn’s sparklingly colourful versions of The Perfect Fool ballet music – an essay in dazzling Rimskian hues - and the stark tragedy of Egdon Heath which stands at the other and more profound extreme. The Perfect Fool dances have been blessed indeed in the recording studios. Sargent (EMI) and Boult (Decca – just redone by HDTT) have each made stunning versions. This one is in their company. I again put in a plea for a recording of the complete opera – The Perfect Fool. Having heard several radio broadcasts over the years I can assure the companies that it is very entertaining – and more to the point would go onto one disc. Boult’s 1966 recording with the New Philharmonia was a mainstay of the lists for many years and hearing it again one can see why. It only cedes its place to Boult’s final digital version in terms of recording quality. That said this 1966 recording has been made using the Decca style guide when it comes to vivid audio balances. It is very enjoyable and resplendent in orchestral detailing both foregrounded and subtly distanced yet still registering."

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Mass in G minor by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  David Van Asch (Bass), Nigel Perrin (Boy Alto), Robin Doveton (Tenor),
John Eaton (Treble)
Conductor:  Nicholas Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920-1921; England 
2.
Lo, the full, final sacrifice, Op. 26 by Gerald Finzi
Performer:  Richard Farnes (Organ), Roland Robertson (Bass), John Bowen (Tenor)
Conductor:  Nicholas Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946/1947; England 
3.
Mater ora Filium by Arnold Bax
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; England 
4.
Anthems (3), Op. 27: no 2, God is gone up by Gerald Finzi
Performer:  Richard Farnes (Organ)
Conductor:  Nicholas Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; England 
5.
I sing of a maiden that is makeless by Arnold Bax
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; England 
6.
This Worldes Joie by Arnold Bax
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; England 
7.
Magnificat for Choir and Organ/Orchestra, Op. 36 by Gerald Finzi
Performer:  Bruce Blyth (Treble), Graham Green (Treble), Richard Farnes (Organ)
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
8.
The Perfect Fool, Op. 39/H 150: Ballet Music by Gustav Holst
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918-1922; England 
9.
Egdon Heath, Op. 47/H 172 by Gustav Holst
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; England 
10.
The Planets, Op. 32/H 125 by Gustav Holst
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1916; England 
11.
Dies natalis, Op. 8 by Gerald Finzi
Performer:  Wilfred Brown (Tenor)
Conductor:  Christopher Finzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925-1939; England 
Date of Recording: 09/26/1963 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio no 1, London, UK 
Length: 23 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Language: English 
12.
A Choral Fantasia, Op. 51/H 177 by Gustav Holst
Performer:  Ralph Downes (Organ), Dame Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Imogen Holst
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Purcell Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; England 
Date of Recording: 09/23/1963 
Venue:  St Augustine's, Kilburn 
Length: 17 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Language: English 
13.
Quintet for Winds in A flat major, Op. 14 by Gustav Holst
Performer:  Ian Partridge (Tenor), Ralph Downes (Organ)
Conductor:  Imogen Holst
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Purcell Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903; England 
Date of Recording: 09/23/1963 
Venue:  St Augustine's, Kilburn 
Length: 7 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Language: English 
14.
Mystical Songs (5) by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk (Baritone)
Conductor:  Imogen Holst,  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir,  English Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; England 
Date of Recording: 08/1966 
Venue:  King's College Chapel, Cambridge 
Length: 19 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Language: English 
15.
O clap your hands by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Imogen Holst,  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir,  English Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; England 
Date of Recording: 08/1966 
Venue:  King's College Chapel, Cambridge 
Length: 3 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Language: English 
16.
Intimations of Immortality for Tenor, Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 29 by Gerald Finzi
Performer:  Philip Langridge (Tenor)
Conductor:  Richard Hickox
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 11/1988 
Venue:  Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, England 
Length: 45 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Language: English 
17.
Grand Fantasia and Toccata for Piano and Orchestra in D minor, Op. 38 by Gerald Finzi
Performer:  Philip Fowke (Piano)
Conductor:  Richard Hickox
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 11/1988 
Venue:  Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, England 
Length: 15 Minutes 44 Secs. 
18.
Oxford Elegy by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  John Westbrook (Spoken Vocals)
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Jacques Orchestra,  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947-1949; England 
Date of Recording: 07/30/1968 
Venue:  Chapel, Trinity College, Cambridge 
Length: 22 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Language: English 
19.
Flos campi by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  Cecil Aronowitz (Viola)
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Jacques Orchestra,  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; England 
Date of Recording: 07/31/1968 
Venue:  Chapel, Trinity College, Cambridge 
Length: 19 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
20.
Choral Hymns (3): no 3, Whitsunday Hymn by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  Robin Doveton (Tenor)
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; England 
Date of Recording: 07/31/1968 
Venue:  Chapel, Trinity College, Cambridge 
Length: 3 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Language: English 
21.
Sancta civitas by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  John Shirley-Quirk (Baritone), Ian Partridge (Tenor)
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Bach Choir,  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; England 
Date of Recording: 01/1968 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 31 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: English 

Sound Samples

An Oxford Elegy: (Lento)
An Oxford Elegy: Go, for they call you, Shepherd
An Oxford Elegy: Here will I sit and wait
An Oxford Elegy: Screen'd is this nook
An Oxford Elegy: That sweet city
An Oxford Elegy: Come, let me read
An Oxford Elegy: Or in my boat I lie
An Oxford Elegy: And once, in winter
An Oxford Elegy: But what - I dream!
An Oxford Elegy: No, no, thou hast not felt
An Oxford Elegy: Runs it not here
An Oxford Elegy: Needs must I, with heavy heart
An Oxford Elegy: Soon will the high Midsummer pomps
An Oxford Elegy: He hearkens not!
An Oxford Elegy: Never more
An Oxford Elegy: Yes, thou art gone!
An Oxford Elegy: Despair I will not
An Oxford Elegy: Why faintest thou?
Whitsunday Hymn (No. 3 of Three Choral Hymns)
Flos campi: 1. Sicut Lilium inter spinas (Lento) -
Flos campi: 2. Jam enim hiems transiit (Andante con moto) -
Flos campi: 3. Quaesivi quem diligit anima mea (Lento - Allegro moderato) -
Flos campi: 4. En lectulum Salomonis (Moderato alla marcia) -
Flos campi: 5. Revertere, revertere Sulamitis! (Andante quasi lento) -
Flos campi: 6. Pone me ut signaculum (Moderato tranquillo)
Sancta Civitas: I was in the spirit (Lento)
Sancta Civitas: And I saw Heaven opened (Allegro)
Sancta Civitas: And I saw an angel standing in the sun (Meno mosso)
Sancta Civitas: Babylon the great is fallen (Lento)
Sancta Civitas: Rejoice over her O Heavens (Allegro moderato)
Sancta Civitas: And I saw a new heaven (Adagio)
Sancta Civitas: Therefore are they before the throne of God (Poco meno largo)
Sancta Civitas: And I saw a pure river
Sancta Civitas: Holy, Holy, Holy (Andante sostenuto)
Sancta Civitas: Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory (Poco animato)
Five Mystical Songs: 1. Easter
Five Mystical Songs: 2. I got me flowers
Five Mystical Songs: 3. Love bade me welcome
Five Mystical Songs: 4. The Call [baritone only]
Five Mystical Songs: 5. Antiphon [chorus only]
O, clap your hands
A Choral Fantasia H177 (Op. 51) (1988 Digital Remaster)
2 Psalms (1988 Digital Remaster): Psalm 86 (tenor, chorus, strings and organ: wds Bible & J Bryan)
Dies natalis, Op.8 (1990 Digital Remaster): 1. Intrada -
Dies natalis, Op.8 (1990 Digital Remaster): 2. Rhapsody (Recitativo stromentato)
Dies natalis, Op.8 (1990 Digital Remaster): 3. The Rapture (Danza)
Dies natalis, Op.8 (1990 Digital Remaster): 4. Wonder (Arioso)
Dies natalis, Op.8 (1990 Digital Remaster): 5. The Salutation (Aria)

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