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Label:
  Chandos - http://www.chandos.net/
Serial:
  CHSA 5002
Title:
  Vaughan Williams: Pastoral Symphony etc. - Hickox
Description:
  Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 3 "A Pastoral Symphony", Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1 & 2, The Running Set

Rebecca Evans (soprano)
London Symphony Orchestra
Richard Hickox (conductor)
Track listing:
  Total time: 66:26
Genre:
  Classical - Orchestral
Content:
  Stereo/Multichannel
Media:
  Hybrid
Recording type:
 
Recording info:
  Recorded in All Saints' Church, Tooting, London - 16-18 January 2002
Producer: Brian Couzens
Sound Engineers: Ralph Couzens, Michael Common (Assistant)

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Reviews: 4 show all
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Review by madisonears October 7, 2003 (6 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I can't believe no one else has reviewed this disc yet and given it the five stars it deserves. What gorgeous music, beautifully recorded. I don't give a hoot if it's PCM or DSD, it's AOK when it plays on my system. I was swept away by the string tone and definition, with no sign of harshness, and the air fairly vibrates with the presence of instruments in the room. The music itself is tender yet powerful, with a melancholy spirit evocative of Brahms. I'm not a music critic, so I don't know if it's a decent performance compared to the long-out-of-print mono version of something recorded off the radio in 1949, but it sure pushed my emotional buttons.

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Review by tintagel April 7, 2007 (6 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I've only recently bought an SACD player, so I've mainly listened to this release in stereo. Having run through the disc several times now it seems like a very fine performance to me. I'm also a big fan of the Handley, Haitink, and Previn versions, but this more than holds its own in that very great company.

Hickox sustains slow speeds nicely, and the weight of this Rolls-Royce of an orchestra sweeps us along with every note. The LSO know this music inside-out and hide the fact that they are not all terribly fond of it rather well (a friend of mine used to be concerts manager for the LSO and he tells me that they still refer to it as 'Cow Pat music').

In stereo I always found the recording to be very atmospheric, with a nice front to back depth. Occasionally the woodwind solos get a little lost, but the soft, veiled quality of their sound makes the music sound other-worldly.

On SACD my initial shock at the major addition to an already substantial ambience took a while to overcome, but I'm there now and find the MC sound to be gloriously involving. Beautiful in the extreme. I was suprised that the offstage voice and offstage brass come from the front (I wonder if I would have placed them behind....??) but it still sounds stunning.

I'm now ordered symphonies 2 and 5, which I already own in the original stereo incarnations. Hopefully I'm in for a similar treat.

Cheers

Nick

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Review by Pan Skeptic April 26, 2007 (4 of 7 found this review helpful)
Vaughan Williams said he lacked the courage to play this symphony as slowly as he wanted. A symphony with three slow movements out of four is a tough sell for audiences and almost any conductor will speed up out of insecurity.

The only recording to really pull off slow tempi without falling to bits was Boult I, made in Kingsway Hall in the early 50s. Unfortunately, Decca recordings of that vintage have a string sound that now seems to us wiry, though it sounded much sweeter coming through the muffled tweeters of that day.

When Boult came to recording it in stereo for EMI in the late 60s, his nerve failed, and he turned in a similarly logical, though much faster performance. Previn tried for slow speeds, but wound up merely sluggish, without any sense of through line. Others have tried to capture this elusive symphony, but without stirring any feeling of loyalty or commitment on the part of the listener. Handley is cold, Slatkin limp, etc.

As points of interest, there are Norrington's largely ignored version, which combines a sensible pace with a glistening color palette that emphasizes V-W's studies with Ravel, and Haitink's thick Teutonic version which harkens to neither England nor France, but searches vainly for Brucknerian metaphysics. Either will decode gorgeously into a surround configuration.

Richard Hickox seems absolutely unconcerned with shape or proportion. Sensuality is all, as swollen phrases heave and collapse like Mengelberg at his very worst. It's gorgeous, but largely incoherent.

For sense, Boult I if you can find it or Boult II if you must have stereo. For reasonable interpretations in up to date sound, Norrington or Haitink. For engineering, this one.

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Works: 4  

Ralph Vaughan Williams - Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1
Ralph Vaughan Williams - Norfolk Rhapsody No. 2
Ralph Vaughan Williams - Symphony No. 3 "A Pastoral Symphony"
Ralph Vaughan Williams - The Running Set