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Vaughan Williams: Symphony 5, Etc. / Sir Yehudi Menuhin

Release Date: 03/01/2005 
Label:  Erato   Catalog #: 942409   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  Ralph MarkhamKenneth Broadway
Conductor:  Yehudi Menuhin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

It is encouraging that Sir Yehudi Menuhin is venturing into symphonic VW territory. Like most musicians who have made their name in one branch of the art, he has encountered some disparaging, occasionally hostile, criticism since he took up conducting, but whatever his stick technique may be, there is no doubt that increasingly he obtains the results he wants, if this recording is anything to go by. Here are two difficult works, and Menuhin's interpretations can be recommended unreservedly.

Vaughan Williams appears to leave much to the conductor in the Fifth Symphony: the score is innocent of expression marks except for the occasional tempo indication. But so tautly is the symphony constructed and so infallibly does it
Read more generate its own momentum that one might think there could be little difference between one interpretation and another. However, Bryden Thomson has recently shown for Chandos how much more it contains than its Pilgrim's Progress associations; Menuhin, too, brings out the toughness (mainly harmonic) in the music without losing any of its visionary elation. But, aided by a Virgin Classics recording of really exceptional clarity and balance, he exposes more strongly than in any previous recording the mastery of the scoring. I am thinking especially of the coda to the first movement, where the lower strings, the horns and the woodwind (from six bars before fig. 15) are superbly blended yet can be heard as individual strands in the texture. Another magical passage is the horns' muted E above the staccato quavers in the lower strings in the Scherzo (ten bars after fig. 14). Menuhin keeps the broad line in the Romanza unbroken. The playing of the RPO is throughout of the utmost sensitivity, with beautiful solo performances.

Where this issue scores over the Chandos is in having another major (and neglected) VW work to keep the symphony company. Before I played the disc, I was disappointed that the opportunity had not been taken to record the original one-piano version of the concerto, since I have come to regard the two-piano revision as an aberration. However, I am bound to say that this performance by two young American pianists has rehabilitated it to a considerable extent. Again, the recorded balance is very fine, so that two sound like one for most of the time. Why is this remarkable work so neglected, not to say scorned? It is Vaughan Williams at the peak of his powers, the first movement belonging to the world of Job and the Fourth Symphony, and the third a fugue that turns into a waltz. Alla tedesca, says the composer of this finale, but it is the waltz as seen by Ravel in La valse. The influence of Ravel is again apparent in the slow movement. Menuhin conducts the work splendidly—its mysterious, haunted ending is profoundly impressive.

-- Gramophone [1/1989]
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 5 in D major by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Yehudi Menuhin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938-1943; England 
Date of Recording: 12/1987 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, Tooting, London 
Length: 38 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Concerto for 2 Pianos in C major by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  Ralph Markham (Piano), Kenneth Broadway (Piano)
Conductor:  Yehudi Menuhin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; England 
Date of Recording: 12/1987 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, Tooting, London 
Length: 29 Minutes 29 Secs. 

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