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Classical - Released October 11, 2019 | PM Classics Ltd.

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Andrew Manze and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s cycle of the 9 Vaughan Williams symphonies have been praised by the reviewers, and their live performances rapturously received. This album contains the most popular of his shorter orchestral works – The Tallis Fantasy, Greensleeves, The Lark Ascending and the wonderful Five Variants of "Dives and Lazarus". The Serenade to Music is heard in the rarely performed orchestral version – this album will be a must have for all fans of the composer! © Onyx Classics
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Symphonic Music - Released March 1, 2001 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Record of the Year - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released November 17, 2009 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Hi-Res Audio
These accounts of four diverse works by Ralph Vaughan Williams are in every way splendid. James Judd clearly knows his way around these scores, and his conducting is as precise and propulsive as it is richly colored and deeply affectionate. His Wasps overture has plenty of snap and bite, while his English Folk Song Suite and The Running Set (another folk song suite in all but name) are bright and colorful. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic responds to the conductor and the music with energy, enthusiasm, and plenty of power, and its playing compares favorably to that of the orchestras of that nation's capital. Pianist Ashley Wass covers himself with glory in his robustly virtuosic but warmly nuanced reading of the English composer's relatively rarely recorded Piano Concerto, particularly in the work's lyrical central Romanza. For dedicated Vaughan Williams aficionados, this disc may not erase memories of Adrian Boult's witty Wasps and muscular English Folk Song Suite, nor Howard Shelley and Vernon Handley's revelatory Piano Concerto, but there is much to savor in Judd and Wass' sleek and insightful performances. Naxos' digital sound is too reserved and recessed to be wholly effective. © TiVo
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Chamber Music - Released May 6, 2014 | Naxos

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The early chamber music of Ralph Vaughan Williams is little known today, partly because he destroyed much of it and what little he saved was stored away until his death in 1958. Little has been available for performance in the decades since, but the Piano Quintet in C minor and the Quintet in D major for clarinet, horn, violin, cello, and piano have been played increasingly, and they show enough substance and cohesiveness to become established repertoire. These pieces partake of the late Romantic style, and while Vaughan Williams' distinctive voice is nowhere in evidence, his adept handling of the instruments and ingenious imitation of Brahms and Fauré reveal his considerable skills as a young composer. Somewhat more recognizable as a Vaughan Williams work is the Six Studies in English Folk Song, which is a mature piece overflowing with yearning modal melodies, and the Romance for viola and piano, which is poignant in its simplicity and melancholy lyricism. The London Soloists Ensemble presents this program with an admirable mix of adventurousness and flexibility, though the playing is temperate and lacking in passion, and the arid recording exposes the group's thin textures and a few intonation problems. This CD is recommended for admirers of Vaughan Williams and fans of music of the fin de siècle, but others should sample it first. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released March 23, 2018 | Onyx Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
The cycle of Vaughan Williams symphonies by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Andrew Manze has been widely praised, with superb sound from the Onyx label's engineers revealing the composer as a master orchestrator in bracing, rather unsentimental, but not unaffecting readings. The Symphony No. 5 in D major and Symphony No. 6 in E minor aren't the most frequently programmed of the composer's symphonies, but the rather mystically pastoral Fifth and the grim Sixth, which at times might be taken for Shostakovich, make a fabulous pair, and this recording may serve as an excellent sample of the set. The Symphony No. 5 was written during World War II and its successor after the war's end, in 1948, but both may be considered wartime works. Most striking is the unrelieved somberness of the Sixth's finale, which listeners at the time suggested might have been intended to represent the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse. Sample the Scherzo, with its scary marchlike rhythms, densely filled out with counterpoint, and the references to wartime become clear. No less compelling is the delicacy of the Symphony No. 5, demonstrating the skills of, among many others, the RLPO's harpist. This regional British orchestra has been brought to new heights by Manze, and this album may even make converts for Vaughan Williams among those who consider him nothing more than a jolly pastoralist. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released April 15, 2016 | Onyx Classics

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Andrew Manze is familiar to classical listeners as a violinist and as a specialist in early music, but he has also pursued conducting, performing orchestral music of a more modern vintage. His concert performances have increasingly featured the symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams, and this 2016 release on Onyx of the Symphony No. 2 in G major, "A London Symphony" and the Symphony No. 8 in D minor gives a clear idea of his approach to this music. The impassioned reading of "A London Symphony" with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra reveals that Manze has an affinity for expansive melodic lines, poignant harmonies, and rich, atmospheric orchestration, and the sounds the orchestra produces are quite lush and luxuriant, wholly appropriate for Vaughan Williams' post-Romantic phase. The Symphony No. 8, dating from 1955, is Vaughan Williams' shortest symphony, and his use of pitched percussion creates a wonderful atmosphere that is unique in the cycle. Manze draws out marvelous sonorities from the orchestra, and the musicians respond with great warmth and a level of enthusiasm that is easy to perceive. Onyx has produced an exceptional recording with vivid tone colors and a resonant acoustic that gives the music a spacious feeling. © TiVo
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Concertos - Released November 5, 2013 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 4 étoiles Classica
Tasmin Little's 2013 release on Chandos is an exploration of lush and lyrical music for violin and orchestra, composed by the leading British composers of the early 20th century, and it is an album of remarkable depth and beauty. Opening the program is the Concerto for violin & orchestra by E.J. Moeran, which sets the mood for the disc with its long-breathed, melancholy lines and pastoral atmosphere. While this is a technically challenging work that shows Little to her best advantage as a virtuoso, listeners may come away from the piece recalling its sweet ambience more than its flashiness. The same could also be said for Frederick Delius' Légende, Gustav Holst's A Song of the Night, and Ralph Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending, all three of which provide tests for the violinist's skills, yet are filled with such gorgeous music that listeners may only remember the general opulence of the scores. Also included are premiere recordings of Roger Turner's arrangements of Edward Elgar's Chanson de matin, Chanson de nuit, and Salut d'amour, which in orchestration, mood, and style fit the rest of the album nicely. Little's polished playing is supported by the BBC Philharmonic under Andrew Davis, and the combination of her rounded tone with the rich orchestral sonorities makes this CD ideal for fans of sentimental post-Romantic music. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released October 6, 2017 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Exceptional Sound Recording - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Vaughan Williams’ seventh symphony (1951), Sinfonia Antartica, reuses numerous materials from the stunning piece the composer wrote in 1948 for the film Scott of the Antarctic. Therefore none will be surprised by the extraordinarily visual orchestration and theme, which any listener – even ignoring the title or cinematographic influence – will immediately associate with vast windy flatlands, scintillating icy lights, Antarctica in all its splendour – and dangers, as Scott’s expedition ended tragically, that’s the least one can say. As a complement to the programme, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (where they are used to the great cold!) and Andrew Davis provide us with Vaughan Williams’s Concerto For Two Pianos: initially created in 1933 for a single piano, the work was adapted to two pianos in 1946 in light of the tremendous difficult piano part, and the composer also took the opportunity to change a few sections. Here it is performed by two Canadians, Louis Lortie and Hélène Mercier. And finally you’ll discover the Four Last Songs sung by Roderick Williams, a kind of Vaughanwilliamsian equivalent to Strauss’ own Four Last Songs, even though Vaughan Williams’ four songs were first orchestrated after his death, by Anthony Payne in 2013 – scrupulously following the composer’s orchestral habits. A beautiful musical testament, created during the last few months of his life. © SM/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released March 24, 2017 | Onyx Classics

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Although best known as a conductor of historically oriented performances, Andrew Manze has turned his attention to mainstream repertory with often profitable results. This release is part of a cycle devoted to the symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams, and it succeeds in works that are not among the audience favorites of the composer's nine. The subtitle "A Pastoral Symphony" for the Symphony No. 3 is both apropos and problematical, and as such the work is one of the most personal in the oeuvre of a rather impersonal composer. The germs of the music date to Vaughan Williams' service as an ambulance driver in World War I, and the mood throughout is one of pastoral scenes disturbed by danger. Manze, leading a charged-up Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, has the wisdom to realize that less is more here, and when he deepens the effect, he does so through unusual textures rather than grand gestures. For the solo trumpet part in the second movement, evocative of the composer hearing buglers at the front in the evening, he uses a natural trumpet, and he employs a tenor in the fourth movement opening (sample this for the haunting effect). A soprano is generally used here despite Vaughan Williams' own indication that the part may be sung by a soprano or tenor (or played on a clarinet). The Symphony No. 4, from the 1930s, is a more outwardly turbulent work whose march rhythms may bring Shostakovich to mind. One of the Russian conductors on the British scene might bring more zing to this, but there's also much to be said for Manze's approach in this unsettling work. Recommended RVW, very much in the British school. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 23, 2020 | Albion

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This is the first in a series of four albums recording all 80 of the folk songs in English that Ralph Vaughan Williams arranged for voice and piano or violin. 57 of the 80 songs have not previously been recorded in these arrangements, so there is a good deal of unknown - but very beautiful - music to be found here. This first album has 23 tracks including 15 world premières. It includes Folk Songs from Sussex (1912) and Six English Folk Songs (1935). Later volumes will include songs collected in the Eastern Counties (1908), the Appalachian Mountains (about 1938) and from Newfoundland (1946). Vaughan Williams is well known as a collector of folk songs, but his own collection by no means predominates in this series; most of the arrangements were made and published as a collaborative effort, drawn from many sources. The 14 Songs from Sussex on this album were all collected by Percy Merrick from Henry Hills, a farmer from Lodsworth, Sussex, around 1900. Some will be well-known in other arrangements; others will be unfamiliar. © Albion Records
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Symphonic Music - Released November 3, 2014 | Halle Concerts Society

Hi-Res Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
The music of Ralph Vaughan Williams seems to have found its ideal contemporary interpreters in the Hallé Orchestra of Manchester and conductor Mark Elder. They've released several strong recordings of the symphonies, and they've outdone themselves with this one, featuring the deceptively named Pastoral Symphony: pastoral it may be, but it carries unmistakable overtones, especially in the slow movements, of Vaughan Williams' experiences in World War I. The orchestra manages a consistent somber tone that's remarkable in itself and is introduced by an equally noteworthy Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. This work is played so often by English orchestras that phoned-in performances are common, yet the sensuous pleasure in the neo-Renaissance sonorities here is palpable. At the other end of the familiarity spectrum are the Five Variants of "Dives and Lazarus," not variations on a theme but five versions of the same folk tune, collected by the composer and woven together into a unique fantasy. The mood truly lightens only with the finale, the Overture from Vaughan Williams' incidental music to the ancient Greek comedy The Wasps. These are superb performances in which the composer's intentions seem to live anew. © TiVo
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 1, 2006 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - Diapason découverte - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released May 10, 2019 | PM Classics Ltd.

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The final volume in the RLPO/Andrew Manze Vaughan Williams Symphony cycle contains ‘Sinfonia Antartica’ No.7 and his final enigmatic symphony, the 9th. The 7th drew its inspiration from music RVW had composed for the film ‘Scott of the Antartic’, though very little of that score actually made it to the symphony. This often mis-understood work is a true symphony that draws on themes from the film. The composer headed each movement with a literary quotation, and these are narrated on this recording by the distinguished actor Timothy West, following in the footsteps of Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson. The 9th symphony dates from his final years and shows no trace of any creative decline. It is a challenging forbidding work and if music could be hewn from granite, then this symphony is a supreme example. © Onyx Classics
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Classical - Released February 4, 2013 | Halle Concerts Society

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For this 2013 release, Mark Elder leads the Hallé Orchestra in a performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 5 in D, which was recorded live and in rehearsal in 2011, and offers a studio session of the Symphony No. 8 in D minor, dating from 2012. With the magic of modern recording technology, it would take an expert to identify and isolate the multiple takes in the Symphony No. 5, so smoothly are they edited as one seamless run-through. Considering the concert or rehearsal settings, this performance has good sound, though within certain limitations, for the presence of the audience and the acoustics of Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, have an effect on the clarity of the orchestra. There is a noticeable improvement of sound quality in the vibrant recording of the Symphony No. 8, and the Hallé benefits from the close microphone placement and clean sound of the BBC studio. Yet beyond considerations of the reproduction, the playing in both works is solid, and Elder clearly communicates with the musicians to draw out the serene lyricism of the Fifth and the bright playfulness of the Eighth, which is one of Vaughan Williams' most fanciful and entertaining compositions. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 30, 2018 | Onyx Classics

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Looking at it closely, Vaughan Williams' first symphony, A Sea Symphony, is his first major work; the composer, who was never in a hurry, was already thirty-six years old when he finished it, even though the writing process had taken him a good half a dozen years. Never in a hurry indeed... But this first great work was a masterpiece that propelled Vaughan Williams to the forefront of the musical world in that year of 1910, a position that he would never leave again. Quite the contrary in fact: masterpiece after masterpiece followed until the end of his life. His Symphony No.1 is the longest of his symphonies; there are four movements in which the choir appears like a soloist from start to finish alongside two real vocal soloists. The style is very modern - not too much in the wake of a Debussy, but truly at the basis of a complete renewal of English music in which Elgar also participated and which served as a foundation, for example, for Britten a few decades later. The album, which features the excellent conductor Andrew Manze at the head of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, closes with one of the composer's most famous works, The Lark Ascending for solo violin (James Ehnes here) and orchestra. It is a true wonder of poetry and invention. The composer limits the orchestra to strings and a few woodwinds, plus a triangle that plays a total of sixteen notes - what an invention! © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 14, 2011 | Halle Concerts Society

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The inaudibility of the quietest musical sections is the only thing to mar this excellent recording of two compositions by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Mark Elder leading the Hallé Orchestra and oboist Stéphane Rancourt bring out so much lush beauty that listeners are likely to feel compelled to simply sit back, close their eyes, and go along for the musical ride. The Symphony No. 2 opens the album. A fairly lengthy work, it has four movements that draw on Vaughan Williams' strengths of creating layered string harmonies and graceful melodies. Once the first movement comes into audibility, it becomes quite dramatic and exciting. The brass are bright and punctuate the music of the strings. The second movement is like a slow sunrise, and then grandly sweeping and majestic in the middle of the piece. Rather than a snapshot of London, one might suggest that the movement depicts a soaring flight over a landscape, or an immense, inspiring vista. It has a programmatic feel that is nothing short of stunning. As before, it is frustrating to try to hear the softest passages on the CD, even at full volume, which does detract from the listening experience. The third movement scherzo is sprightly, bouncy, and spirited; Vaughan Williams has a light touch here, demonstrating his mastery of string orchestration. The fourth movement is also rather programmatic in feel, a fitting conclusion to a tribute to one of the world's greatest cities. The Concerto in A minor for oboe and strings is composed in a vein comparable to the symphony, with a similar use of orchestral textures and colors, but the obvious difference is the solo oboe. Played by Rancourt, it avoids the reedy melancholy often associated with the instrument. The listener is struck by the hypnotic, Indian classical-like oboe melody in the Rondo pastorale; like a bird or butterfly gardening about an orchestral meadow, one simply cannot take one's ears off it. Rancourt is an extremely agile performer; his style is fluid and smooth and he achieves a timbre almost like a flute, as one can hear in the Finale. This work, too, is a delight. The orchestra understands every nuance of the music, maintaining a sense of levity and characteristically English serenity and grace throughout the album. It is a match made in heaven between the musicians and the repertoire, and this is indeed very lucky for the listener. © TiVo
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Symphonic Music - Released October 6, 2017 | Halle Concerts Society

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Two of the greatest symphonies from England's greatest symphonist, Vaughan Williams: what a find! To cut a long story short, he composed nine symphonies alongside other pieces, themselves no minor works. The Sixth, finished in 1947, is a real orchestral deluge, in which wailing, hysterical saxophones, macabre xylophones, delirious brass and terrifying, martial percussion all meet, in particular in the titanic Scherzo, which follows a sombre, ghostly fourth and final movement which never rises above a pianissimo (frequently with the note, "senza crescendo"), and in which we find neither theme nor development, but only a  powerful and meandering polyphony made up of rhythmic and melismatic micro-cells,  in which some of the more desolate moments presage Gorecki's Third - in short, this Sixth is an immense masterpiece. The album signed by the Hallé Orchestra directed by Mark Elder closes with the no-less-imposing Fourth from 1935, the first of Vaughan Williams's symphonies to be published without a title - pure music, detached from any external element. More severe than the three that preceded it, it is nonetheless possessed of a great depth and a sombre intensity, with a few amusing echoes of Hindemith, which could leave no-one indifferent. © SM/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released September 4, 2015 | Halle Concerts Society

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Few symphonies are as compelling and moving as Ralph Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony, a setting for soprano, baritone, choir, and large orchestra on poetry by Walt Whitman that is often credited with reviving the British symphonic movement. This ecstatic live performance by Mark Elder and The Hallé is musically convincing and emotionally stirring, and soprano Katherine Broderick, baritone Roderick Williams, and the combined forces of the Hallé Choir, the Hallé Youth Choir, Schola Cantorum, and Ad Solem contribute to the vastness of the sound, the richness of details, and the mystical depth of the music. Elder's interpretation is fluid and flexible, with some noticeable fluctuations in tempo at the service of the text to give it clarity. However, he also emphasizes those seldom-heard inner voices and softer orchestral colors that are sometimes buried but lend the music an impressionist cast, and he shows great sensitivity to Vaughan Williams' innovative scoring. There have been several fine recordings of A Sea Symphony that continue to be reissued, notably those by Adrian Boult, André Previn, Bernard Haitink, Richard Hickox, and Leonard Slatkin, so Elder is in good but competitive company that makes choosing a recording extremely difficult. While Boult's still holds sway with most traditionalists, Elder's recording will likely find new fans in a much younger audience. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | Chandos

Booklet
Delivered with visceral excitement and awe-inspiring majesty, Ralph Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony (1909) receives one of its greatest performances in this glorious super-audio recording by Richard Hickox and the London Symphony Orchestra, one to rival its predecessors and to set a high standard for others to emulate in the future. A setting of stirring poetry by Walt Whitman, this optimistic and heroic pæan to the world's oceans and sailors has never sounded warmer, richer, or deeper thanks to Chandos' direct stream digital reproduction and the amazingly realistic multichannel mix that is so vivid and evocative one expects to feel a bit "of dashing spray and the winds piping and blowing" from the speakers. With impassioned solos from baritone Gerald Finley, notably in "On the Beach at Night, Alone," and soprano Susan Gritton, and backed by the grand London Symphony Orchestra Chorus, the singing is gorgeous throughout and imbued with a reverence that makes this performance utterly convincing and profoundly moving. Because the frequency range is extremely wide, listeners may find the softest passages are almost too quiet, particularly at the end of the second movement and in the distant choral passages in "The Explorers," but the dynamics are well adjusted in the rest of the movements and virtually all internal parts and orchestral details can be heard clearly. The filler piece, Vaughan Williams' entertaining Overture to "The Wasps," is presented up front and serves as an appetizer for A Sea Symphony, though many will want to skip ahead to hear the larger work, which is sure to satisfy. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 7, 2011 | Warner Classics

Distinctions Diapason d'or - The Qobuz Ideal Discography