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Cat. No. CHAN 9902 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9902 - Vaughan Williams: A London Symphony (Original 1913 version)
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Available From: 17 April 2001
The Idyll, The Banks of Green Willow, by George Butterworth, was composed in 1913, the same year Vaughan Williams completed his A London Symphony. It is a sensuous work, which incorporates two folk songs Butterworth had collected in 1907.

It was George Butterworth who first suggested to Vaughan Williams that he should write an orchestral symphony and, after Butterworth’s tragic death, Vaughan Williams dedicated A London Symphony to his memory. The work was finished by the end of 1913 and first performed at the queen’s Hall in London on 27 March 1914 conducted by Geoffrey Toye, and, as on this CD, was programmed after The Banks of Green Willow. Following the loss of the full score in Germany in 1914, Vaughan Williams, Butterworth, Toye and E.J. Dent reconstructed it from the orchestral parts, and the first performance of the reconstruction took place on 11 February 1915 under Dan Godfrey. Vaughan Williams revised the symphony three times: in 1918, 1920 and 1933, and the well-known ‘Revised Edition’ was published in the mid-1930s.

Listening to the original conception of A London Symphony is particularly exiting in that there is around twenty minutes of extra music from a time when Vaughan Williams was writing works of freshness and lyricism, including The Lark Ascending (1914).

Many of Vaughan Williams’s friends regretted the cuts, Sir Arnold Bax referred to his sadness at ‘the loss of a mysterious passage of strange and fascinating cacophony with which the first version of the Scherzo closed’. Bernard Hermann felt that the deleted bars in the slow movement removed some of ‘the most original poetic moments in the entire symphony’.

After the first performance of the original version, as heard on this CD, Vaughan Williams’s close friend Gustav Holst wrote to the composer saying ‘You have really done it this time!’ How right he was.
Reviews

"...He [Hickox] draws ravishing sounds throughout from the LSO, with an unerring feeling for idiomatic rubato and a powerful control of massive dynamic contrasts... The sumptuous Chandos sound, with an extraordinarily widedynamic  range, adds to the impact of the performance, which comes with a short but valuable and beautifully played fill-up."
The Penguin Guide - 1000 Greatest Classical Recordings 2011-12

‘Hickox is a persuasive Vaughan Williams interpreter and has the LSO on unbeatable form.’
Sunday Times

‘As with his Chandos Fifth he’s [Hickox] a wonderfully sensitive interpreter of the whole piece.’
International Record Review

'This is no academic resuscitation, but a glorious finished work in its own right. The orchestral playing is jaw-dropping. Buy it immediately - and you'll be treated to a lovely little extra in The Banks of Green Willow by George Butterworth.'
Gramophone

‘The original 1913 score contains some remarkable extra music, and the LSO and Hickox give it a performance that’s far from academic.’
Disc of the Month BBC Music Magazine

‘Quite simply, an essential purchase for anyone remotely interested in British music.’
Gramophone

‘This is a disc of immense importance to lovers of English music.’
Sunday Telegraph

Gramophone Critic's Choice of 2001 new releases
Gramophone

‘As of now, this issue is for me the symphonic recording of the year. It is glorious in all respects.’
American Record Guide

'Andrew Aschenbach's endorsement, 'an essential purchase for anyone remotely interested in Bristish music' can itself be endorsed, even with that 'British'
Gramophone

‘Richard Hickox, whose dedication to the VW cause is second to none, directs a vivid performance, with splendid support from his assembled forces… the performances could hardly be better.’
BBC Music Magazine on CHAN 9646 (A Cotswold Romance etc.)

‘…one of the best Fifths I have heard. The recording is state-of-the-art.’
Classic FM on CHAN 9666 (Symphony No. 5 etc.)

‘The refinement of the LSO string playing under Hickox is magnificent, and the subtle textures of the scoring are beautifully captured.’
BBC Music Magazine on CHAN 9593 (Five Tudor Portraits)

‘If anything, the result is a gain in grandeur, and of symphonic breadth… Hickox’s beautifully played and recorded reading leaves… an account that takes revisitation beyond a mere musicological exercise.’
BBC Music Magazine

 

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