Search - Ralph Vaughan Williams, Adrian Boult, Hugh Bean :: Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music; The Lark Ascending; Fantasia on Greensleeves; English Folk Song Suite; In the Fen Country; Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1

Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music; The Lark Ascending; Fantasia on Greensleeves; English Folk Song Suite; In the Fen Country; Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1
Ralph Vaughan Williams, Adrian Boult, Hugh Bean
Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music; The Lark Ascending; Fantasia on Greensleeves; English Folk Song Suite; In the Fen Country; Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1
Genres: Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1


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Cathy L. from KERRVILLE, TX
Reviewed on 4/29/2007...
Not my favorite Vaughn Williams but it may be yours!

CD Reviews

One of my favorites
NotATameLion | Michigan | 08/03/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I recently watched an interview on PBS with the composer John Corigliano. In the interview Corigliano was lamenting the current state of criticism within classical music. An intellectual elite have imposed their aesthetics on a generation of composers and listeners. This aesthetic essentially boils down to whether music is complex and "deep" enough to be considered good. If the music is merely entertaining of beautiful to listen to the critics say it is worthless drivel. Corigliano voiced his disagreement with this aesthetic (one which I share). People should not be ashamed of a piece of music simply because they like it. I mention all this in order to say that if I were the kind of person who got ashamed of music simply because of its beauty, then this disc of works by Ralph Vaughan Williams would probably be among the first inductees into my hall of shame. This music is beauty in motion...from the stunningly sunny "Serenade to Music" to the aching "Lark Ascending," there is not a bad piece of music on this disc. Since I am not a particularly shame-filled person, I find myself free to mention that I have found the "English Folk Song Suite" and "Norfolk Rhapsody No 1" two of the best pieces of music to listen to while reading the works of Tolkien. It says something about the greatness of a work when you really like all the pieces and have no clear-cut favorite among them...such is the case with this disc and me. I give it my highest recommendation."
The commitment of Sir Adrian Boult.
jean couture | Quebec city - Canada | 03/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This silvery disc contains rapturous readings of some very good works of genuinely English music. Overall sound is really good (fares quite well, even when compared to the "audiophile" records of the day). The choice of "tunes" is representative.

Recently, i revisited a couple of versions of `The Lark Ascending' which hark back to the good old days of "stereo" : One by Neville Marriner with his excellent musicians of St.Martin's and a few others, including Boult's. In fact, Boult's record certainly has "the edge" over Marriner and his authority makes no doubt ; that being said, they both give us strong and credible readings of a timeless work written for the violin. The Boult recording is especially top-level. Hugh Bean, a soloist of choice , has a masterful presence that complements fittingly Boult's fine orchestral control. For an historic recording of 'The Lark' you should look for Boult's seemingly unsurpassed version with violinist Jean Pougnet (released on Dutton). Be warned : Sound quality of the latter -a vintage mono recording- is far from the excellence provided by EMI or Decca in their later stereo recordings. Brilliant conductor Richard Hickox, in a superb EMI collection, offers another stupendous reading of 'The Lark' ; the solo violin of Bradley Creswick and the magnificent play-through of the orchestra deliver one of the top performances on disc - i venture to say it is nearly as good as the EMI/Boult!

Additionally to 'The Lark', there are lovely performances offered on the EMI/Boult cd : 'Serenade to Music' is not quite outclassed by the original performance under Henry Wood--which is a glorious 1930's recording but with somewhat limited sound. Boult's rendition is also better than the one from Matthew Best on Hyperion, though very good the latter is. No wonder since Boult had set up a first-class team for the recording, featuring a handful of artists chosen among the finest singers from Europe. There also exist a very good choral-only version by Vernon Handley (again, on EMI). The 'Norfolk Rhapsody No.1' is another treasured piece of music in which Boult does fairly better than the "competition" (for instance, Barry Wordsworth's version with the New Queen's Hall Orchestra isn't as good a reading). 'In the Fen Country', with its refreshing musical atmosphere, also receives a charming and colorful presentation. The comparatively brief 'Fantasia on Greensleeves' is as delightful as its name suggests, though i will always have a sweet spot for the likes of Abravanel or Previn for their superlative virtues.

The 'English Folk Song Suite' does pretty well here, thanks notably to careful orchestral touches ; perhaps, the Intermezzo is slightly more efficient under Vernon Handley, the glorious strings of the RLPO redefining the loftiness of that "pastoral" piece. Neville Marriner did, as well, a particularly beautiful recording of it. However, for some sheer sound and bursting percussive impacts, one shall look at a handful of excellent versions for wind bands--much preferable in that case (after all, the suite was intentionally written for military -wind band- sonorities). This is the best way to hear the work at it's fullest (i urge you to hear the Grenadier Guards, issued on Emblem as EMBL8001).

In conclusion : Reliable sound and honest interpretations. EMI Records offer a real gift of music with this splendid album of works by Vaughan Williams. Check it out!