This is the second CD coming from this excellent source which is the National Youth Orchestra of Wales after their well received Elgar Second. Although this symphony is a tougher nut to crack than Elgar's, the young welsh players acquit themselves quite well especially in the mystic opening to the First Movement which seems to grow in stature from bar to bar.
The Lento is also particularly mysterious with the old London sounds particularly effective, this is rather reminiscent of Barbirolli's fine reading on Dutton. Arwel Hughes is perhaps a bit stodgy in the concluding Andante con moto but otherwise the reading is cogent and well disciplined. There are other fine versions of the work which are essential listening though if you are a newcomer to this work such as Boult (Decca), Handley (EMI/CFP) and the late lamented Hickox (Chandos).
Mathias Celtic dances are an enjoyable romp and the National Youth Orchestra of Wales certainly rises to the occasion, which is on all counts a very fine performance. One looks forward to further recordings from this source on the excellent Divine Art label which provides a handsome package replete with notes and pictures as well as an excellent recording.
Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech