An unsurpassed account of a beautiful work.
Tom Gauterin | Loughborough, Leics. United Kingdom | 04/04/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Despite the very strong cases which can be made for recordings of this symphony by Boult, Barbirolli and, more recently, Previn, Handley's account of the work should be considered to be the best ever to have appeared. Recorded in splendidly refined digital sound, this version is the warmest and most serenely beautiful interpretation of Vaughan Williams's lyrical masterpiece. There is an overwhelming feeling of rightness about Handley's approach to the work, in which he manages to shape each movement while never losing the overall sense of the unanimity of mood in the symphony as a whole. The opening typifies Handley's delicacy in this remarkably unforced reading; one is barely conscious of the violins before the distant horn-calls. This is not to say that the symphony is one-paced in its gentleness, as the appropriately bubbly woodwind in the scherzo demonstrates. This recording benefits from the way in which there is no sense of the interpreter enforcing his will onto the music and, more so than usual, one registers the sense of rural beauty that this unobtrusively joyful work exudes. I would go so far as to say that this is one of those rare recordings which can be considered to be perfect, especially since the fill-up,'Flos Campi', a 25-minute work in the same vein as the symphony, is almost as well-executed. The whole disc conjurs up an almost tangible sense of summer haziness and, at the lower end of mid-price, is one of the best bargain CDs currently available; were it a full-price disc, it would still be an easy first choice for this quintessentially English masterpiece."
Get more the newer release of the same recording
R. Lane | Tracy, CA USA | 04/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"See Amazon asin # B0000647HQ. That disk has the exact same recordings as the present disk, plus the Oboe Concerto for a full 79 minutes of outstanding quality VW. And it is less expensive. See my review there too."