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CD Review

Ralph Vaughan Williams

  • Symphony #6 in E minor (with previous version of Scherzo)
  • A Song of Thanksgiving
  • The Lark Ascending
Jean Pougnet, violin
Soloists, Luton Choral Society
London Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra/Adrian Boult
Dutton Laboratories CDBP9703 69m ADD Mono Rec: 1949-52
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This intriguing recording is the first ever of RVW's garish Sixth Symphony that also includes the original version of the Scherzo that is substantially different from the revised version. Quirks apart, this is a blazing reading of immense passion and deep intensity and constitutes one of the indispensable few readings of the Sixth that really penetrate deeply into the core. The shattering Allegro is taken at quite a daredevil pace alongside a pensively built Moderato that really sounds ominous. Boult's greatest trick is in the Epilogue where a soundly sustained tempo creates just the right amount of bleakness that is required. Michael Dutton also includes two very important readings from the early Fifties.

The première recording of 'A Song for Thanksgiving' only came in 1951 although it was intended to celebrate the end of the war. Boult treats the work with as much loftiness as possible without making it sound overtly pompous and the soloists and narrator are perfectly adequate.

Jean Pougnet's dreamy recording of 'The Lark Ascending' is also a gem and the London Symphony play with the sort of passion that they only do for the charismatic Boult.

Mike Dutton has resurrected these tapes with his usual skill and Michael Kennedy's notes are a joy to read. The disc is one of six new budget-price issues that should be snapped up immediately.

Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech