Notes and Editorial Reviews
Vaughan Williams' Piano Concerto is a wonderful, wholly characteristic work. The fact that it ends softly probably accounts for its lack of popularity in concert, but it's been very lucky on disc. Almost all of the available versions are very good, and this one is no exception. Ashley Wass offers a scintillating account of the opening Toccata, alternately brilliant and delicate, a lovely and lyrical Romanza, and an aptly gutsy fugue and finale. Having James Judd on the podium virtually guarantees sharply focused, idiomatic accompaniments. He's one of Naxos' most reliable and interpretively characterful conductors.
The couplings are also quite appealing. The complete Wasps suite is another excellent work that you'll probably never hear in concert, at least outside of England, and more's the pity. Judd delivers a flavorsome performance. His tempo for the overture is particularly well-judged, not as slow as Boult's but not as slick and swift as some prefer. Rather, he finds a sturdy liveliness of pace and gruff good humor that comes across as quintessentially English. The Folk Song Suite and Running Set march are charming and never seem to lose their tuneful freshness, while the entire program is very well played by the RLPO. Very good sonics too. A treat for RVW fans.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com