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Cat. No. CHAN 10103 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10103 - Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 6/ Nocturne/Symphony No. 8
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Available From: 18 August 2003
"Discussion has raged ever since the first performance of Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No. 6 in 1948 about whether the symphony has a ‘programme’. One critic called it a war symphony and likened the pianissimo Epilogue to the vision of a world laid waste by atomic warfare. Another thought the violent and jazzy Scherzo was inspired by a tragic incident during the bombing of London. Vaughan Williams emphatically denied all this but one cannot escape the impression that some kind of extra-musical drama or struggle is being described, which is undoubtedly why the work made such a deep impression on its listeners.

Symphony No. 8 is certainly the only one of his symphonies, which can be said to be entirely abstract. After it appeared in 1956, when the composer was eighty-three, its comparative lightness and use of exotic instruments led some commentators to underestimate its novelty of form and to miss the freshness of its invention.

In 1908 Vaughan Williams composed three Nocturnes – settings of his favourite poet, Walt Whitman – which were never completed. But the manuscript of an earlier Nocturne, a setting of ‘Whispers of Heavenly Death’ dated 11 January 1908, fully orchestrated, only came to light in 2000. It was among the music belonging to Frederic Austin who had been a well-known baritone. It must be assumed that Vaughan Williams gave him the score to criticise or in the hope he might perform it. The piece provides invaluable insight into Vaughan Williams’s compositional development.

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Reviews

'Who needs SACD when you can get sound as good as this from 24-bit? Vaughan Williams's 6 is a dark and dramatic, often brooding work, and the engineers give the orchestra a rich, clear sound that can't help but benefit the composer's vision.'
American Record Guide

'It's a luxurious sound, as well-defined as always from Chandos: full of subtle detail and with fine depth of image. The surround sound balance offers considerably enhanced definition of this famous acoustic, adding weight and import to the sound.'
Gramophone

This must be the most winningly played and recorded performance of this masterful work yet put on disc.
The Times on CHAN 9984 (Symphony No. 4 etc.)

…Richard Hickox presides with superb control and a feeling for the idiom that has made his unfolding Vaughan Williams symphony cycle for Chandos such a joy… this original version of A London Symphony is one of those records surely destined for classic status…
Gramophone on CHAN 9902 (A London Symphony etc.)

…surpassingly beautiful performance… The finesse of the playing at the end of the slow movement is magical…
The Sunday Telegraph on CHAN 10001 (Symphony No. 3 etc.)

'Finally, there's a real treat: the first recording of a recently discovered Nocturne, an intensely moving setting of Walt Whitman's 'Whispers of Heavenly Death' composed in 1908. It's evocatively sung here by Roderick Williams.'
BBC Music Magazine

'This is the work's [Nocturne] first recording, and lone makes the disc worth having.' '…this CD without doubt, is the finest technical recording yet made of these works, and I commend the engineers unreservedly.'
International Record Review

 

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