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Cat. No. CHAN 10244 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10244 - Vaughan Williams: The Film Music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Volume 2
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Available From: 09 August 2004
Vaughan Williams was introduced to writing for the cinema in 1940 when he was nearly sixty-eight, by Muir Matheison, director of music for the Ministry of Information. Mathieson was working on the Ministry’s only major feature film production, 49th Parallel. He went to see Vaughan Williams in Dorking, Surrey and found him strangely depressed at his inability to play a fuller part in the war… I told him the story of 49th Parallel and tried to show how the cinema could help to achieve those very objectives for which he was striving… He set to work right away…

The aim of the film, which featured Eric Portman, Leslie Howard, Laurence Olivier, Raymond Massey, Anton Walbrook and Glynis Johns, was, in the words of its director, to ‘scare the pants off the Americans and bring them into the war sooner’. The plot concerns five members of a stranded Nazi U-boat crew making their way across Canada in the hope of crossing the 49th parallel into the neutral United States. Vaughan Williams’s masterly score contains jazzy episodes prophetic of the Sixth Symphony. Stretches of pastoral music remind us that he was simultaneously working on his Fifth Symphony.

The England of Elizabeth, a British Transport Commission documentary, is a moving evocation of Tudor England with nothing ‘tea-shoppe’ about it. The use of folksong- and folk-dance-influenced music intensifies the atmosphere of an extraordinarily exuberant and poetic score. What is recorded here is virtually the original, almost continuous, film score, complete with choral contribution.

The Dim Little Island was made in 1949 for the Central Office of Information. In this avowedly propagandist film the voices of four narrators – John Ormiston (industrialist), Osbert Lancaster (artist), James Fisher (naturalist) and Vaughan Williams, are heard answering the claim that Britain had gone downhill since the war.
Reviews

The contribution being made by Chandos to the preservation and reassessment of British film music has to be one of the most important projects undertaken by the classical recording industry in the past decade… as with Volume 1, this CD is a must for any Vaughan Williams enthusiast.
Music from the Movies

'Without question, performance and sonics are up to the high standards set by the first volume, while the booklet is informative and helpful' Rumon Gamba, as with all of his exemplary compilations of British film music, really makes this grand entertainment come alive.'
American Record Guide

Like everything else on this CD it [Elizabeth of England] is performed with tremendous dedication and perception, and the Chandos recording is spacious and vivid. Excellent presentation, too, not least for including stills from the films.
Fanfare

'Rumon Gamba draws a polished and wholehearted respinse from all involved (the BBC Philharmonic is in fine fettle at the moment). The Chandos recording has striking body and lustre; exemplary presentation, too. Very strongly recommended.'
Gramophone

 

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