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O Thou Transcendent - The Life Of Ralph Vaughan Williams


Release Date: 05/05/2009 
Label:  Tony Palmer Films   Catalog #: 1367  
Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  Nicola Benedetti
Conductor:  Andrew LittonTamás VásárySian Edwards
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic OrchestraHungarian Radio OrchestraNational Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 2 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews




"His latest effort is a superb, stirring biography of the towering English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). Piecing together a chronological timeline of Vaughan Williams’ life and art, Palmer adroitly uses vintage interviews with the composer and his widow Ursula plus new interviews
Read more with other composers, colleagues, and friends to paint a complicated portrait of an agnostic who wrote some of the most emotional and spiritual music of the 20th century." -- Kevin Filipsksi, Times Square

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"This year is the 50th anniversary of Vaughan Williams’ death. He was the grand old man of British music in the first half of the 20th century, and my personal favorite along with William Walton and Delius. This documentary uses a variety of excerpts from his music - many dramatically performed (and dramatically filmed) by the youth orchestra which he founded. The musical excerpts are alternated with interview material from important figures in British music, including his widow and those of other leading British composers and conductors. There are also stock footage clips showing various English scenes and some harrowing footage from the First and Second World Wars, in which the composer was involved. The opening is a lovely sequence of visionary panoramas of the English countryside. ...

The documentary focuses on the man Vaughan Williams. He was related to Charles Darwin and Virginia Woolf among others, was very handsome in his youth and later a larger-than-life teddy bear of a man. He worked for two years on the English Hymnal, giving the Protestant faith some of their loveliest hymns which are still sung everywhere, he convinced Churchill to establish the Arts Council and the Third Programme of the BBC...

Discussion of the overriding qualities of his music and of English music in general - nostalgia, pastoral qualities, perhaps regret - limn efforts to rid English music of a strong Germanic influence. His music ended up being banned by the Nazis. VW’’s so-called “war symphonies” effectively communicated the bleak outlook of the period, but his last symphonies also presented a rather bleak outlook on the future of humanity - never mind the impressionistic and nostalgic qualities. Some of the hard-to-view WW II footage Palmer uses affected me in a similar way to some of the footage Ken Burns used in his WW II documentary series, but that was its intent - to show how VW’s native optimism about mankind’s future was being tested."

- John Sunier, Audiophile Audition

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'O THOU TRANSCENDENT'
The life of Ralph Vaughan Williams
A film by Tony Palmer

Includes archive performances by Sir Adrian Boult, newly discovered interviews with Ralph Vaughan Williams himself, and the last ever interview with Ursula Vaughan Williams

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: Digital Stereo
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Running time: 129 mins
No. of DVDs: 1

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Works on This Recording

1.
The lark ascending: Excerpt(s) by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  Nicola Benedetti (Violin)
Conductor:  Andrew Litton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914/1920; England 
2.
Symphony no 7 "Sinfonia antartica": Excerpt(s) by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Tamás Vásáry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian Radio Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949-1952; England 
3.
Symphony no 4 in F minor: excerpt(s) by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Tamás Vásáry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian Radio Orchestra
4.
Symphony no 9 in E minor: Excerpt(s) by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Tamás Vásáry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian Radio Orchestra
5.
Symphony no 2 "London": Excerpt(s) by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sian Edwards
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913/1920; England 
6.
Symphony no 5 in D major: Excerpt(s) by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sian Edwards
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
7.
Symphony no 6 in E minor: Excerpt(s) by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sian Edwards
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
8.
Symphony no 8 in D minor: Excerpt(s) by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sian Edwards
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
9.
Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis: Excerpt(s) by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sian Edwards
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910/1919; England 
10.
Norfolk Rhapsody no 1 in E minor: Excerpt(s) by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sian Edwards
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
11.
Job: Excerpt(s) by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sian Edwards
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927-1930; England 
12.
Variants (5) of 'Dives and Lazarus': Excerpt(s) by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sian Edwards
Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; England 

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