Notes and Editorial Reviews
Naxos is putting together a very good Vaughan Williams symphony cycle, featuring exciting performances on the whole, and this newcomer is no exception. Paul Daniel launches the Fourth Symphony with plenty of thrust and violence, and particularly in the last two movements he manages to reveal ear-catching detail without the need to suck any wind out of the music's sails. If I have any quibble at all, it's that the Bournemouth players don't have quite the weight in the heavy brass and lower strings that the music ideally demands, and I think Daniel makes too much out of the ritard in the symphony's closing measures (up to that point the coda has a full dose of nastiness). But that's a pretty short list in a symphony that seldom sees impressive performances on disc. This is certainly one.
I have no issues at all with the couplings, which really are terrifically well done. The Norfolk Rhapsody has plenty of poetry in its contemplative passages, but it also projects powerful climaxes. Flos Campi, a rarity in concert and certainly one of the composer's most sensual and personal creations, gets a much bigger, more dramatic reading than usual, with the intensity of its more voluptuous and energetic sections all but overwhelming. The wordless chorus has particular atmosphere, the engineers not making the mistake of miking the singers too closely (they have no words, after all). In fact, the warm but clear sonics complement all of this music very nicely. I suspect I will return to this release often, particularly for the luscious reading of Flos Campi--but then the whole disc is really very good. [2/7/2005]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com